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Budget deficits cause stress among staff

Posted By Noah Rivkin On October 28, 2010 @ 7:05 am In News | Comments Disabled

Due to the renovation of Newton North and budget problems over the past few years, the Newton School Committee has been forced to make numerous cuts to staff positions at South across all departments.
As a result, secretaries, department heads, and teachers are finding themselves saddled with more duties than expected, dividing tasks among themselves that were previously delegated to former faculty members.
At both South and North, two department secretaries have been cut. Accordingly, all of the houses at South have taken on a department, and house secretaries have spread out the department secretaries’ previous tasks among themselves. Housemaster Donna Gordon, for example, took over the supervision of the campus aides, while Cutler House Secretary Janice Ingemi took on the role of supporting IT staff member.
“A big part of this problem is that a house secretary has to be in the house all day long, Ingemi said. “Being a department secretary and trying to do that work is hard unless you’re in the department¦ it’s a struggle.
In the case that a house secretary is absent, secretaries that work in the main office leave their own posts and cover the house office until 10:00 or 10:30 am.
“It is stressful¦ [and] we haven’t really gotten into the worst part of the year, Executive Secretary Bette Lupo said. “Sometimes stress comes from worrying how you are going to handle it, and I think that’s where we are now. We’re more afraid of it than we might be.
Unlike other secretaries, Health and Wellness Department Secretary Barbara Castoldi has not had to cover the jobs of another staff member at South. Part of the reason for this, however, is that she has her own lengthy list of duties, which includes scheduling buses, managing purchase orders, answering phone calls, and handling the budget for the wellness department.
“This is my ninth year here, and my job has grown immensely since I’ve started, Castoldi said.
South and North are not the only Newton schools that have been impacted by the budget cuts. Elementary schools are also feeling the strain, as there is only one secretary per school, which generally consists of 450 to 500 students. Before the budget cuts, there were a number of building aides that were able to help out in the main office; as many of these positions were cut, however, the remaining aides must now work elsewhere in the building.
According to Lupo, the increased number of tasks per secretary is part of a steady downward trend in the past eight or nine years. Not long ago, there were 110 members in the secretaries’ union; now, they are down to 90.
“The bottom line is, we’ve been doing more with less for a long time, Lupo said. “Over the past ten years, we’re slowly being eroded¦ [but] so far we’re been able to push ourselves.
Lupo, however, sees more than stress and busyness among the impacts of budget cuts and the increased number of tasks per staff member.
“The level of the kind of service that the secretaries want to provide to people [is] being eroded, she said. “The things that I used to be able to do for people, I just can’t do anymore. People need to be able to come to a school and feel welcome, but because of the stress and work we haven’t been able to provide those nice gestures to people.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/budget-deficits-cause-stress-among-staff/

URLs in this post:

[1] Superintendent proposes 2011 budget for Newton Schools: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/03/24/superintendent-proposes-2011-budget-for-newton-schools/

[2] Faculty Focus: Bette Lupo: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/faculty-focus-bette-lupo/

[3] Staffing Strains on Library, School: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/11/02/staffing-strains-on-library-school/

[4] Fitness Room closed during day due to budget constraints: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/09/30/fitness-room-closed-during-day-due-to-budget-constraints/

[5] 2010 may be the last year for South cafeteria staff: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/06/10/2010-may-be-the-last-year-for-south-cafeteria-staff/

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