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Vote on LAUSD layoffs delayed

March 31, 2009 7:12:11 AM PDT
LAUSD board members decided to delay a vote on layoffs on Tuesday.When a board member indicated the decision might be put off for a month, Superintendent Ramon Cortines asked that it only be delayed to April 14.

Nearly a dozen teachers at Florence Nightingale Middle School in Cypress Park are expected to be laid off.

"It is one-third of all our 6th grade teachers, so our 6th grade will be heavily impacted," said teacher David Meyerhof.

Meyerhof is a teacher at the middle school and the chapter chair for the teachers union.

Parents, students and teachers are Florence Nightingale rallied against the layoffs on campus beginning at noon Tuesday, ahead of the board's expected vote.

"Our teachers are very important to us because without our teachers, we don't get an education, and without an education, there's no fulfilling our dreams," said student Esther Martinez.

A group protested outside the LAUSD headquarters on Monday.

L.A. teachers have made their voices heard on the issues of layoffs, but it all comes down to a LAUSD board final decision, which was expected at a 1 p.m. meeting. The board put off that decision Tuesday afternoon. The vote concerns more than 8,000 layoffs, about half of those teachers.

District officials said they are facing a more than $700 million budget deficit, and cuts must be made.

LAUSD Superintendent Ray Cortines had originally envisioned nearly 9,000 layoffs, but the district is expected to receive about $1 billion in federal economic stimulus money.

About 500 administrators and 200 counselors could lose their jobs, and 2,500 district employees, including school-based janitors and cafeteria workers, could be laid off as well.

The district is also expected to increase class sizes, despite continuing to grapple with overcrowding issues.

A group of students at Florence Nightingale started a club called "Save Our Teachers." The students said they hope it will be the beginning of a movement that sweeps through the district, giving students a voice about what is going on in their schools.

"They're here teaching us, taking their time, and hearing that the school district wants to take them away from us, it hurts us deeply," said student Destiny Nguyen.

"But we're really trying to fight against it to have them stay. They mean a lot to us."

Eyewitness News Reporters Leo Stallworth and Gene Gleeson contributed to this report.


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