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After San Diego Unified laid off Uvie Cole, she pleaded with the San Diego Unified school board to extend her health benefits through December, worried for her husband who needs a heart transplant. Union representative Leticia Mungia urged the school board to keep benefits intact until the statewide budget crisis was resolved, and trustees pledged to look into her problem.

Cole, a relief truck driver, lost her job to budget cuts along with four other workers in the district warehouse. Monday is her last day of work, and she said her health insurance cuts off on October 1.

Without the insurance, “it would be hard to get a heart,” Cole said. “It’s a huge amount of money.”

Cole said that keeping her health insurance and the same physician would cost her $675 a month. Her husband has applied for disability, but Cole expects that the benefits wouldn’t kick in for another six months to a year. She has worked for San Diego Unified for 10 years.

“They have an inhuman way of dealing with people,” she said. “If you’re fired, that’s different. But this is a layoff.”

Within a few hours of Cole’s speech, trustees gave the green light to a $217,500 contract that would allow attorney Mark Bresee to keep his paycheck and health benefits for up to a year if he were fired. Bresee’s salary is 16 percent higher than the attorney he replaced, Ted Buckley. And like the agreement the school district struck with Buckley, his agreement provides that if San Diego Unified fires him, he will continue to receive his salary and benefits.

Buckley was contracted to receive his pay for up to 18 months; Bresee would receive his for a year or the remainder of his contract, whichever is less. Buckley said the provision did not apply because he had decided to retire from the school district.

EMILY ALPERT

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