Niskayuna

Niskayuna school district causes staffing confusion

Niskayuna High School exterior. Entrance at Nott Street East in Niskayuna. April 25, 2021.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Niskayuna High School exterior. Entrance at Nott Street East in Niskayuna. April 25, 2021.

NISKAYUNA – A Niskayuna Central School District bargaining unit was sent into a frenzy Monday morning after being told they’d be losing 19 positions next year.

Hours later the district apologized for the email and said no staff would be cut. 

Leaders of the Niskayuna Education Support Personnel Association received an email around 10:30 a.m. from Kathleen Culligan, the interim human resources director for the district, stating there would be a reduction of 19 clerical aide positions. 

“I have been notified that due to the loss of federal funds, there will be a reduction in force of 19 clerical aide positions,” Culligan said in the email. “I am working on a seniority list which I will verify with the Schenectady County Civil Service Commission. I will also consult with the school attorney and then meet with you before we notify your members.”

The email blindsided the association, said Julie Petralia, the association secretary. 

However, by 4 p.m. association President Carol Ann Townsend and Petralia said the district had indicated the positions would not be cut. 

“It was just a huge miscommunication,” Petralia said. The unit is made up of 43 clerical aides, she said.

Townsend said clerical aides do a number of jobs in the district from working in offices to helping in cafeterias and on buses and are vital to the district. 

The 19 positions mentioned in the email work in the elementary schools in the district, said Roberto LoBianco, the district spokesperson. Those positions were supported by federal grant funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, “which is intended to help schools address the impacts of the pandemic,” LoBianco. 

The district said the email sent this morning was due to miscommunication.

“We apologize for any confusion or uncertainty that the email caused,” LoBianco said. 

“After the board learned of the error this morning we worked to ensure the district administration corrected the error as quickly as possible and informed staff that the clerical aides currently employed will remain in place next year,” said Kim Tully, the school board president. 

LoBianco and Tully could not be reached prior to publication on how these positions would be funded in the budget next year. 

Voters head to the polls today to vote on the district’s almost $99.9 million budget.

Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SB_DailyGazette. 

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