Ninety employees of the Exeter School District will be furloughed effective Sept. 19.

The school board voted at a meeting Tuesday to place the 90 on furlough until the district returns to either a hybrid instruction model or a fully in-person instruction model.

The board voted early this month to begin the school year using remote education only, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pandemic has created a huge number of very difficult votes and decisions for our district,” Dr. Kimberly I. Minor, district superintendent, said when introducing the resolution authorizing the furlough. “And certainly this item this evening represents one of the most difficult for anybody to face.

“This is not a referendum on the value of these positions and it is certainly not a referendum on the value of the employees,” she said.

Minor, in a telephone interview Wednesday, said the administration had an obligation to review all employees who receive salaries and benefits through taxpayer funds and ensure the district could provide them with meaningful work during the period of remote instruction.

The duties of 290 support staff were scrutinized, she said, and the district determined it could not provide meaningful work for 90 employees.

Those 90 positions listed in the referendum include: 13 cafeteria aides, one computer aide, one health room aide, two in-school suspension aides, 14 learning support aides, one library aide, two math aides, two special education paraprofessionals, seven reading aides, 26 instructional aides, one school safety assistant, two 12-month secretaries, two 188-day secretaries, three 211-day secretaries, one transportation mechanic helper, seven van drivers and five bus aides.

In other business, the board approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Exeter Township Education Association for July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2022.

The contract includes salary increases of about 2% each year of the contract.

Board member Dr. Ann Hearing voted no for the contract.

Hearing said she believes Exeter teachers are outstanding, but does not think it is appropriate to raise salaries when others in the community are hurting financially or unemployed.

Board member Hunter Ahrens defended the contract, calling it a compromise between the board and the education association.

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