The Washington school system has sent layoff notices to 117 educational aides in the latest in a series of job cutbacks.
Most of the aides are women from low-income neighborhoods and work in elementary schools where their own children are enrolled, assisting teachers with lessons, clerical chores and discipline.
Deputy Superintendent Edward Winner said the layoffs were brought about primarily because of a drop in federal aid.
Until a year ago, Winner said, salaries for about 110 of the aides had been paid by the Response to Educational Needs Program, a major federally funded project in Anacostia. Winner said when that program ended, most of the aides were given temporary jobs in other federal programs and a few with regular school system funds.
But this fall no money is available to keep them, Winner said. "We're kind of at a dead end now," he said.
Until the layoffs, which will take effect in stages during September, the D.C. schools have had 730 non professional aides working in classrooms.
The school system started hiring aides in the late 1960s as part of an effort to increase the involvement of low-income parents in the schools. The layoffs, which will be applied on a seniority basis, will include women who have been working as aides for up to five years.
When D.C. schools reopen next Thursday, they will also have 200 fewer teachers than a year ago because of budget cuts to keep their teaching staff in line with declining enrollment.
During the spring and summer, about 160 teachers received layoff notices. However, most of them were able to retain their jobs in the school system because of retirements and resignations.
Officials in the school personnel office said yesterday that about 45 of the laid-off teachers still are out of work.
Sam Jordan, a staff representative for Council 20 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, which represents the aides, said the union would fight the layoffs by filing grievances and possibly appealing to the U.S. Civil Service Commission.
"The school system is really going after the people at the bottom," Jordan said, "instead of those at the top like they should be."
The classroom aides earn between $7,000 and $12,000 a year.