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Major cuts, layoffs in new LAUSD budget

June 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Angry workers and teachers rally at L.A. Unified School District headquarters. But the protest doesn't keep the school board from approving a budget that calls for layoffs and major cutbacks, as much as $1.6 billion in cuts over three years.The Los Angeles Board of Education approved a new budget Tuesday, including cutbacks and layoffs that have led to public outcry, and triggered plans for a school workers' bus caravan to the state capitol.

They hope the message is heard all the way to Sacramento. They don't want any cuts or layoffs.

Dorene Young works at one school and just received her layoff notice. She will lose her job next month.

"I think they're cutting the wrong things," said Young. "It's always better to cut the people who are making the larger amounts of money ... I hope that our governor hears us."

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines proposed a budget for next year that includes across-the-board layoffs and cuts to try to balance a nearly half-billion-dollar deficit. For that reason, the board is considering a parcel tax. Cortines says the unions need to work with the district.

"If we do not have shared commitments from bargaining units and a parcel tax, we will have to reduce critical programs all across the district," said Cortines.

"The quality of the education in this school district will most assuredly go down. Anybody who's spent any time in a classroom knows how difficult it is to educate children on any level -- elementary, middle or high school -- when your rooms are jam-packed," said United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy.

After listening to angry parents and union members, the school board approved the budget, five votes to two.

Julie Korenstein was one of those who voted against it. She says Sacramento needs to fix the system.

"It's an impossible situation for a board of education and a superintendent to try to balance a budget when you do not know how much money is coming -- forget in two years, you don't even know what's coming in six months anymore in the state of California. So the revenue system in the state of California for public education has to be fixed," said Korenstein.

School workers are going to hold another rally Tuesday night around 10 p.m. at union headquarters, and then they are going to take a midnight bus ride to Sacramento to meet with legislators face to face and urge them to give more money to schools.

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