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LAUSD cuts target non-teaching personnel

February 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The L.A. Unified School District is facing a new budget crisis, the result of cuts to education in the new state budget agreement. District officials are struggling with some painful decisions.At Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters, employees brace for the pink slips. Fifteen-hundred people will get notifications by mid-March.

"We're fearful, so you know we have to start saving for that three months," said LAUSD employee Cheryl Lindsey. "Who has that three-month salary that they say you should have in the event you do get laid off?"

The chief financial officer gives dismal figures to the school board. Classrooms will be hit, but the emphasis will be on non-teaching personnel.

"Out of classroom support staff Mr. Cortines mentioned, we have become aware over 5,000 certified are out of the classroom," said LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly. "We are looking very hard at that before we go into the classroom."

School funding is pegged on the state budget. Ninety percent of school money comes from Sacramento. The recent slashes leave LAUSD with a shortfall of $894 million.

And that is only for now. Over the next three years, the gap could widen.

"We need to be sensitive because I will be recommending sending notification to a great many employees and I want us not to confuse notification with losing a job," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

The superintendent encourages older workers to take early retirement. That would spare some jobs. Decisions are being made under pressure. The teachers union just signed a deal to preserve hard-fought health benefits. They say that deal could be tabled if teachers are cut. Yet some teachers see the writing on the wall.

"Some people are looking to move, I know a couple of my friends are moving," said teacher Elizabeth Isralowitz. "Other teacher friends are moving back to the East Coast, where they're not laying off teachers, and hoping to get their jobs back over there."

Cortines urges workers not to panic yet: "Because the district will be different when we finish this process at the end of June going forward to the next year."


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