University City

Union schools chief wants $6.7 million from county to avoid cuts

Reversing course, Union County schools’ superintendent now wants the school board to ask the county for an additional $6.7 million to avoid eliminating all 350 teacher assistant jobs.

The plan is likely to meet resistance from some county commissioners, and possibly set the school district and the county on a seldom-used path to mediation.

Superintendent Ed Davis’ plan was unanimously endorsed by a school board subcommittee this week, and comes amid sharp criticism from parents, local and state officials over the initial plan to shed more than 400 classroom jobs to help close a $9.6 million budget deficit. Davis insisted he was not bowing to public pressure, saying the move followed personal conversations he held with people he has known for years about what was best for the district.

“I put my ear to the ground and listened…Nobody really pressured me,” he said. “We need to at least ask” the county.

Davis also said it was precedent setting to seek county funds for positions that typically are paid for by the state.

Commissioner Jonathan Thomas said Thursday it was premature to comment on the plan, but acknowledged, “We don’t have $6.7 million in the budget we can cut.”

The school board will vote on the revised proposal Tuesday night, then send the budget request to the county.

Davis’ new plan does not restore the 53 teacher jobs that are still in line to be eliminated, mainly through attrition, retirements and resignations.