Employee faces poverty as state budget cuts continue - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Employee faces poverty as state budget cuts continue

LOS ANGELES (CNN) - Faced with further budget cuts, school employees are feeling the weight of the economy's effect on school districts as positions continue to be slashed in an effort to save money.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, Library Aide Mary Bates is facing poverty after receiving a notice that later this month her paid hours will be cut in half to only three per day.

"Literally, I won't be able to make it," she said. "I can't live on three hours."

With a salary of $16.37 an hour, Bates will be struggling to support her two granddaughters, who she cares for part-time, on the money she makes working at Burton Street Elementary School.

"You think about that, $16.37 an hour. Gas is $4 a gallon, milk is $5 a gallon, a box of cereal is $5," she said. "You've got utility bills that every other month, 'Oh, we're raising water or raising this.' I won't be able to pay my bills."

Although she is paid for six hours a day, Bates says she works eight to 10 hours at the school library and at home. Despite her title, she does the job of a full-fledged librarian, keeping inventory and restocking bookshelves.

"I come to work an hour and a half early and give that to the district so I can get my clerical work done," she said.

With time off for summer, she earns about $20,000 a year. The cuts will bring her below the single person federal poverty threshold of $10,890 a year.

"I was stunned," said Bates. "You can't maintain a library in three hours, it's impossible."

The library puts Bates in charge of approximately 14,000 books, all of which will be less accessible with her new hours.

"If they don't read, they are not going to succeed," she said.

Bates will also have to face the potential of losing her health insurance due to the impending reduction in work hours.

"If I had no medical insurance, I don't think I could afford the $1,400 a month for pills and insulin," she said.

State budget cuts may also force her to move to a new school farther from her home, so she's looking for other work.

"I can't imagine doing any other job," she said. "Those kids are like my extended family."

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