Remote-learning layoffs: La Salle-Peru High School furloughs seven employees

Superintendent Steve Wrobleski calls layoffs a 'difficult decision'

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With La Salle-Peru High School moving to fully remote learning through the end of the first quarter, the administration recommended laying off seven employees whose job responsibilities rely on student attendance.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the La Salle-Peru Board of Education approved the employee reduction of force by a 6-0 vote, with board member Sally Taliani abstaining.

Board president Tony Sparks and board members Carol Alcorn, Alan Cherpeske, Dr. Rose Marie Lynch, Matt Merboth and Greg Sarver voted in favor of the motion.

The vote came after a nearly hour-long closed session. Paul Wisen, a custodian and afternoon shift foreman at L-P along with being head of the building services union, addressed the board during closed session.

“We had seven employees that, because their particular job duties are really contingent on kids being in the building, we made the difficult decision to lay those employees off,” L-P Superintendent Steve Wrobleski said. “This is the tough part of running a business.

"These are good people. They’re part of the Cavalier family. We’re hopeful to be able to get back to normal at some point in the near future.”

The employees will receive a 30-day notification of the layoff, so they will work through Oct. 8, then be furloughed. The employees can be recalled in the future when students return.

Six of the furloughed employees work in the cafeteria, while the other was the school’s library clerk.

The layoffs leave eight employees to work in the cafeteria to handle the school’s meal train.

“How we arrived (at the numbers for the cafeteria) was by working with the management team in the cafeteria,” Wrobleski said. “We modeled it off the summer and back in the spring when doing the meal train. We surveyed the parents to see how many people will be participating in the drive-by. Then we were able to determine how many employees were necessary to be able to manage the expected workload.

“Once we get going with the meal train, if the staff tells me they can’t keep up, we’re gong to recall employees.”

With the library clerk laid off, that leaves only librarian David Kelty to work in the library.

As of now, L-P students are doing remote learning through Oct. 16.

“In about five weeks as we get closer to the end of the first quarter, then we’ll make a determination,” Wrobleski said. “A lot of that is contingent on what is happening with COVID and where the numbers are at. I’m usually an eternal optimist for most things, but this is probably the one where it’s hard.

"I’m not as entirely optimistic of what it may look like as we get closer to that.”