Saturday, 22 June 2024

Middletown bus drivers hold sickout Friday

MIDDLETOWN – Students, parents and Middletown Unified School District personnel got a surprise Friday morning when most of the district's bus drivers took part in a sickout.

Four of the district's six drivers called in sick and didn't show up to drive children to school, said District Superintendent Dr. Korby Olson.

The timing appeared to be due to a specific reason. “Today is the day we were delivering classified layoff notices,” said Olson.

Olson delivered those 34 notices with the classified employees union president, who he said hadn't known anything about what appeared to be a unilateral action by the four bus drivers.

He said 17.5 full-time equivalent classified positions are being laid off as the district seeks ways of cutting $1.5 million from its $14 million budget.

Some of those employees who received layoff notices will maintain jobs because they have bumping rights into other positions, he said.

However, Olson noted that it was a lot of lost jobs for the district. “It's painful.”

The school district's board of trustees made the decision to give out the notices at its Wednesday meeting, which Olson said was long and difficult.

The Thursday notices followed the pink slips handed out to 12 teachers at the end of March. Of those, 11 will be reduced for a total of just over 9.5 full-time positions, Olson said.

Olson notified parents via e-mail Friday morning that the school district planned to run all of its usual bus routes with only two buses, resulting in a 45-minute delay for Cobb Mountain Elementary and Coyote Valley Elementary School's buses. However, schools still began on time.

“We don't have backups, which is a problem,” said Olson, adding, “We were able to get them all to school.”

Later in the day, Olson reported to parents that the same two buses would take students home, with run expected to be up to 45 minutes late.

Incidentally, Friday also was the day that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May Revise of his budget came out. The impacts on local schools won't be known until later this month, according to Lisa Cockerton, business manager for Lucerne Elementary School.

Middletown is not alone in its budget struggles. As school districts around Lake County struggle with declining enrollment and less funding, dozens of classified and certificated employees are facing the loss of their jobs.


Lake County News will present an overview of the present budget situation for the local districts and their proposed employee cuts once the effects of the May revise have been analyzed.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at and on Facebook at .

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