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School board proposed plan cuts 1,400 teachers

December 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles Unified School District school board approved a drastic measure Tuesday to deal with a whopping $1.2 billion deficit. The school board approved a budget plan which calls for as many as 5,000 job cuts. The operative word is that they "could" be cut. This is not set in stone. This is just one of three plans that the district is putting forth right now in order to address the deficit. They have until next year really to act on all of this. Right now, it is a standoff between the teachers union and the district, and no one is budging.

While the school board wrangled with ways to cut $470 million out of next year's budget, teachers and their supporters wanted to make sure that one cost-cutting option was off the table.

"We're here for a reason, and we're here for the kids, but we also need to have some respect," said elementary teacher Jose Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said the district too often targets teachers.

"Instead of cutting where they're supposed to, which is outside the classroom, they keep adding more and more personnel," said Gonzalez.

"We've given up a lot. We give up our time, we give up our love," said teacher Desiree Orozco.

Orozco was one of about 500 teachers and their supporters who gathered outside of LAUSD's headquarters Tuesday, protesting a proposed budget plan that could mean up to 5,000 layoffs.

Another option calls for furlough days and a 1-percent cut in pay.

"We feel that the cuts should start elsewhere, outside of the classroom," said Orozco. "Our children are first, our parents are with us and that and that's why we're out here today."

"It is my responsibility to lead us through these difficult times and it will not be easy," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

At Tuesday's meeting, Cortines said no one wants layoffs or increased class sizes. But in a year where the district faces what he calls a "catastrophic financial crisis," he says the only option is a shared sacrifice.

"I understand that this is difficult but it helps bring stability to our students who need it most during these difficult times," said Cortines.

That plan could mean as many as 5,000 layoffs in the district with as many as 1,400 of them being teachers. But this is not set in stone. It is a preliminary plan to deal with that $1.2-billion deficit over the next two years. They plan to have several more of those meetings.


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