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Prop. failures force LAUSD budget cuts

May 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Unified School District is already facing major budget problems. LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Tuesday night's election results will only make a bad situation worse.Cortines appeared distraught as he gave the details of what the LAUSD now faces. He said a $130-million cut is need for 2009, and in addition, he needs to cut approximately another $200 million in 2010. That's on top of an already huge $1.3-billion deficit.

"Here's where we are: right at the edge of the precipice," said Cortines. "And when I talk about the precipice, I talk about being able to make the payroll."

Cortines said this will mean layoffs, possibly furlough days, more students per classroom and no summer school next year.

"I don't see it getting any better," said Cortines.

United Teachers Los Angeles blames the district for all its problems.

"For many, many years this district has lied to the public," said UTLA President A.J. Duffy. "Every year they cry poverty. And every year, miraculously, at the end they manage to have hundreds and millions of dollars in surplus."

Duffy admits this year might be different, but he says people simply don't trust the district. He says federal stimulus money should be used to keep all teachers employed.

"If it appears that the district cannot maintain the workforce, then we are perfectly willing to go to our members and start a dialogue about whether or not to take furlough days," said Duffy.

Some parents we spoke with say they voted against the propositions, and they worry for their children.

"There's a lot of waste, and funds that I think are not accounted for, and I think they should look further into that," said parent Raquel Devine.

"I can speak for our school, and I don't think there's too many teachers," said parent Gigi Hutchinson. "There's not enough teachers, because what is happening is that not only are they expanding the class sizes, but they're combining the grades. And that's not fair."

Both the union and the district say they will continue to negotiate.

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