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LAUSD Board agrees to 5,200 layoff notices

March 2, 2010 12:14:40 AM PST
Thousands of teachers and other employees of the Los Angeles Unified School District will soon get layoff notices. It's an effort to deal with a $640-million budget shortfall. Board members authorized the notices Tuesday afternoon at district headquarters.Tuesday afternoon just before 3 p.m., the Los Angeles Unified School District voted to approve sending layoff notices to nearly 4,700 employees, including teachers and administrators as well as counselors and nurses.

There will be nearly 4,700 notices sent out to teachers, administrators, counselors and nurses, and they would be informed that their services would no longer be needed by June 30.

Another 1,500 layoff notices would be sent out to janitors, maintenance workers and school office workers. The superintendent said there were two ways to deal with the district's deficit: With the help of the teachers union, or without it. In the end, the union did not want to deal with it, so the decision was all in the lap of Cortines. Tuesday afternoon the LAUSD Board agreed with his decision.

"So I am not proud of what I am recommending to the board today," said LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines. Yet Cortines said he is cornered.

The state provides 90 percent of LAUSD's funding. The dollars forthcoming have been slashed. The district's deficit now stands at $640 million.

The superintendent detailed multiple cuts he has made already.

"I cut over 40 percent of people in this district at the district headquarters. I cut in half the local district offices," said Cortines.

In turn he has pleaded with the teachers union for concessions. Still, union leaders do not budge.

"UTLA is united in its opposition to layoffs that would devastate the classroom," said Gregg Solkovits, secondary vice president, United Teachers Los Angeles.

Without shared solutions, the board resorts to whatever layoffs are legal, more than 5,100 jobs. Due for layoff notices: assistant principals, elementary and middle school teachers, tenured and non-tenured. Also, support personnel, psychologists and nurses who provide life-preserving service.

"For example, we have about 1,200 diabetics. Only an RN or an LVN can administer insulin to the diabetic," said school nurse Linda Handschumacher. "So if we have a major reduction in workforce, I don't know who's going to end up giving the insulin to the students."

With layoffs looming, the appeal is repeated.

"This is a personal plea to UTLA to help us minimize the amount of layoffs that the district is facing, to help us figure this out together," said LAUSD Boardmember Nury Martinez.

The notices will be sent on March 15, but this will just be the first round. More cuts are expected with the deficit so large.

Cortines said last year about 8,000 layoff notices went out, but only 2,000 people actually lost their jobs.