LAUSD to cut jobs, boost pay

Board gives OK to $ 7.8- bil­lion bud­get, the big­gest since the re­ces­sion, but with hun­dreds of lay­offs.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Howard Blume

The Los An­ge­les Board of Ed­u­ca­tion on Tues­day ap­proved a $ 7.8- bil­lion bud­get for the na­tion’s sec­ond- largest school sys­tem that in­cludes the first pay raises in nearly a decade, in­clud­ing 10% for teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, but also will re­sult in the lay­offs of hun­dreds of staff.

The bud­get ref lects an $ 850- mil­lion in­crease over last year, the big­gest gain since be­fore the latest re­ces­sion. Even so, Supt. Ra­mon C. Cortines warned that the spend­ing plan is ten­u­ously bal­anced for the f is­cal year that be­gins July 1.

“There are no more presents un­der the Christ­mas tree,” Cortines said, while also ex­press­ing hope that ad­di­tional state funds might al­low the dis­trict to re­hire many em­ploy­ees.

Hard­est hit was adult ed­u­ca­tion, which ab­sorbed 261 teacher lay­offs, about 20% of a pro­gram that al­ready had suf­fered steep cuts in re­cent years. L. A. Uni­fied laid off or re­as­signed the 21 teach­ers who pro­vided classes for adults with dis­abil­i­ties and the 18 who pro­vided classes for se­niors. Also cut were 25 teach­ers who taught par­ent­ing classes, 85 who worked with adults learn­ing English and 10 who taught aca­demic sub­jects in the adult pro­gram.

Ninety- four teach­ers in ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools also are los­ing their jobs.

For­mer school board mem­ber David Tokof­sky, a con­sul­tant for the ad­min­is­tra­tors union, ac­cused the dis­trict of be­ing short­sighted, not­ing that the lay­offs in­cluded math teach­ers, a sub­ject that needs teach­ers. He pre­dicted that those in­struc­tors would ul­ti­mately be of­fered jobs again. In the mean­time, he added, they’d be with­out health ben­e­fits for the sum­mer — and tempted to take po­si­tions with other school sys­tems.

The f inal bud­get and the con­tract set­tle­ments that pre­ceded them caused dis­agree­ments within the Los An­ge­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict. Some se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tors con­cluded that the con­tract set­tle­ments were more than the dis­trict could af­ford.

The 10% pay boost takes ef­fect over the first two years of a three- year con­tract. L. A. Uni­fied also agreed to main­tain health ben­e­fits at about cur­rent lev­els for three years.

Other fac­tors also eroded the surge in state fund­ing, in­clud­ing a state re­quire­ment that the dis­trict con­trib­ute more to un­der­funded pen­sion plans. En­roll­ment also has de­clined, leav­ing the dis­trict over­staffed, of­fi­cials said.

Cortines said the bud­get is a cal­cu­lated risk, not­ing, for ex­am­ple, that he re­lied this year on one- time fund­ing to help pay for salary in­creases that will be on­go­ing.

The su­per­in­ten­dent, who is 82, also added an un­scripted com­ment, sug­gest­ing that he might re­main only six more months, although his con­tract runs one more year.

( The vet­eran su­per­in­ten­dent re­turned to L. A. Uni­fied in Oc­to­ber, af­ter pre­de­ces­sor John Deasy re­signed un­der pres­sure.)

In a show of sol­i­dar­ity with Cortines, the board unan­i­mously ap­proved the bud­get. The board nar­rowly ap­proved a pro­posal by board mem­ber Steve Zim­mer to ex­plore whether the dis­trict could cover health ben­e­fits over the sum­mer for laid- off teach­ers.

Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Me­gan Reilly es­ti­mated do­ing so would cost $ 1 mil­lion. The board stopped short of or­der­ing Cortines to make such a bud­get ad­just­ment.

Other no­table parts of the spend­ing plan in­cluded more money to help stu­dents pass col­lege- prep classes that will be re­quired for grad­u­a­tion and for an ef­fort to ex­pand dual- lan­guage and mag­net pro­grams.

Ear­lier bud­get es­ti­mates had an­tic­i­pated more lay­offs than ac­tu­ally will oc­cur, but that’s lit­tle con­so­la­tion for adult school teacher Kath­leen Garske- Kaloper, who was laid off in 2012 af­ter teach­ing con­tin­u­ously since 1994. She was re­hired full­time only a year ago.

“I’ve been liv­ing un­der con­stant stress for the last three years,” said GarskeKaloper, who teaches stu­dents not yet f lu­ent in English. “I’ve been fight­ing to do some­thing I love. It’s like you’re a day la­borer wait­ing on some­one to call on you for work. It’s nerve- rack­ing. It’s ridicu­lous.”

Another ca­su­alty of the bud­get was a well- re­garded pro­gram for preschool chil­dren. It was re­placed with a dif­fer­ent one, of­fi­cials said, that is more likely to have fu­ture fund­ing from the state. It was a bet­ter out­come for early ed­u­ca­tion than many ad­vo­cates had feared.

In­struc­tors were not the only ca­su­al­ties of lay­offs. As many as 570 non­teach­ing full- or part- time em­ploy­ees could lose po­si­tions by midAu­gust, although the toll could be sub­stan­tially less. These in­clude com­puter spe­cial­ists, teach­ing aides, sec­re­taries, cam­pus se­cu­rity aides and li­brary spe­cial­ists. There are about 30,000 dis­trict em­ploy­ees in those ar­eas. Twit­ter: @ howard­blume

Reed Saxon As­so­ci­ated Press

RA­MON CORTINES, su­per­in­ten­dent, hopes the dis­trict will be able to re­hire many em­ploy­ees.

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