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Teachers urge LAUSD to reject layoffs

March 24, 2009 12:49:45 PM PDT
Hundreds of people took to the streets on Tuesday at Florence Nightingale Middle School in Eagle Rock to protest proposed layoffs.The Los Angeles Board of Education considered some tough decisions Tuesday, including thousands of layoffs and increasing class size. Critics say the district is slashing more than necessary and should wait for federal stimulus funds. Even if the $1 billion expected from the federal stimulus package is included, the board cannot use the money to save jobs.

A final vote on the proposed cuts will not take place until next Tuesday. But the board has some tough decisions to make that involve the livelihood of thousands of employees. Layoffs are reportedly imminent.

About 300 teachers, staff, students and parents took part in the "Save Our Teachers" march Tuesday morning before class. From Florence Nightingale Middle School, 11 teachers and one counselor face being laid off.

"Keeping our teachers," said parent Sandra Condito. "A lot of our teachers got pink slips this week. And that's just not right. It's about seniority over merit, so for me personally, I'd like it to be merit over tenure."

The board went over proposals on how to reduce a deficit of more than $140 million this school year and more than $540 million next year. Layoffs, it seems, are imminent.

"Among the recommendations: teacher layoffs," said LAUSD Spokesperson Gayle Pollard-Terry. "Also, one out of four employees here at Beaudry, here at central headquarters, will lose their jobs. Class sizes will increase by two to four students."

Under the plan, about 4,700 teachers would be laid off, based on seniority and other considerations.

About 500 administrators and 200 counselors would also lose their jobs, as would about 2,500 district employees, including about 1,000 school-based janitors and cafeteria workers.

Superintendent Ray Cortines had initially envisioned as many as 8,800 layoffs, but the school district is expected to get roughly $1 billion in federal economic stimulus funding.

The number of students in each classroom would also rise under a cost-cutting plan for fiscal 2009-10, which starts July 1.

The student-to-teacher ratio would go from 20 to 1 to 24 to 1 in kindergarten through third grade; from 36 to 1 to 38to 1 in middle school; and from 40 to 1 to 42 to 1 in some high schools.

A final decision about layoffs is expected when the LAUSD board meets on March 31.


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