The union that represents hundreds of school aides facing layoffs is striking back with a radio ad campaign protesting Mayor Bloomberg’s budget cuts.

District Council 37, the city’s largest municipal union, is running ads on five stations beginning this week that tout the benefits of school aides, whose contract with the city does not protect them from budget-induced layoffs. In the ads, children talk about why they need the aides who supervise them on the playground, sit with them in the cafeteria and counsel them against drug use.

A total of 850 school aides are facing layoffs after principals eliminated their positions because of budget cuts, said Department of Education spokeswoman Ann Forte. About 150 of those aides have already gotten pink slips.

Listen to the radio ad:

“Tell the mayor ‘no’ to these cuts,” the spot urges. “While it takes teachers to educate our kids, it takes an entire school to keep them safe.”

An accurate accounting of the number of school aide positions being cut won’t be available until principals finish finalizing their budgets, Forte said. The department estimates that 700 workers are at risk of losing their jobs, in addition to the 150 who learned before the summer began that their positions had been eliminated. Those aides will work through the end of September, Forte said, and any new layoffs will be effective at the end of October.

The city originally said in June that as many as 2,600 DC 37 school workers could be laid off.

Last month the union endorsed Comptroller William Thompson for mayor over Bloomberg, whom they backed in 2005, perhaps because the mayor refused to promise them that he would not cut union jobs during the economic crisis.

A Bloomberg administration spokesperson did not return requests for comment on the radio ad.

Here’s the full D.C. 37 press release:

NYC BOARD OF EDUCATION EMPLOYEES LOCAL 372 OF DC 37

LAUNCHES RADIO AD CAMPAIGN SLAMMING SCHOOL LAYOFFS AT A TIME WHEN CITY SQUANDERS BILLIONS IN TAX MONEY ON PRIVATE CONTRACTORS.

ADS SAY: “WHEN YOU PROTECT SCHOOL JOBS, YOU PROTECT SCHOOL KIDS.”

NYC Board of Education Employees Local 372 of District Council 37, which represents 25,000 NYC school workers, has launched a radio advertising campaign to fight the layoffs of dedicated school employees at a time when private contractors and outside consultants are funded by $9 billion of the city’s $60 billion budget.

Local 372’s radio ads began airing this week on 1010 WINS, WBLS, WCBS, WWRL and WKRS.

The ads feature NYC public school children who were helped by Local 372 members and tell New Yorkers that, “Mayor Bloomberg is proposing to cut over 900 school workers, the people who watch our kids from the morning school bus to the afternoon bell.” The ads ask the public to “Tell the Mayor ‘no’ to these cuts, because while it takes teachers to educate our kids, it takes an entire school to keep them safe…When you protect school jobs, you protect school kids.”

Among the 900 workers targeted for layoffs are School Lunch Workers, School Aides, Health Aides, Substance Abuse Prevention & Intervention Specialists (SAPIS) and Family Paraprofessionals who the Local 372 ads says, “make sure our kids get to school, stay in school and learn in school, safely.”

Students in the ads describe the vital role these school workers play. A young student named Denila says, “Ms. Jones sits with us in the lunch room and she takes us out to play volleyball. She acts like she’s one of the kids.” Another child says, “Ms. Dowdy is a drug counselor that comes to my school and teaches us why we shouldn’t do drugs. She doesn’t talk down to us, she talks to us. I like Ms. Dowdy.” Another says, “Ms. Richard makes sure I don’t eat things that will put me in the hospital. I’m allergic to peanuts, dairy products. She really watches over me.”

Local 372 President Veronica Montgomery-Costa said, “These workers should not be on the chopping block. They keep our kids safe and sound and ready to learn. Laying them off while entering into multi-million dollar no-bid contracts hurts this city’s economy by throwing away millions that should be put back into the classrooms. It also puts our children in jeopardy. It doesn’t make any sense to contract out services that can be done better and more economically by city employees who have a longstanding relationship with 1.1 million NYC school children they serve, as well as with their families and communities.”

The Local 372 ads are the latest salvo in DC 37’s citywide campaign spotlighting the shadow government of some 18,000 private contractors employing a parallel work force of more than 100,000—hired without the “merit and fitness” examinations and background checks required of public employees such as these school workers whose jobs are on the line.

DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said, “We’ve proven with our white paper that these layoffs aren’t necessary. The money is there. In fact, the Department of Education recently signed a $95 million contract with a Florida-based consulting firm with a history of no-bid contracts. Taxpayers’ money is going out of state at a time when New Yorkers are experiencing high unemployment rates. That is outrageous.”