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LAUSD Delays Vote on Program Cuts, Warns Budget Slashing is Inevitable

The school board postponed threatened cuts to arts, early childhood and adult education classes, but authorized Superintendent John Deasy to ready layoff notices for teachers and to prepare a parcel tax proposal for voters.

The Los Angeles Unified School District board today delayed a vote on proposed massive cuts to adult and early childhood education programs, instead instructing the superintendent to negotiate cost-saving measures with unions and monitor state budget developments in hopes of reducing the magnitude of the cuts.

The board also authorized Superintendent John Deasy to begin preparing a parcel tax to put before voters in hopes of reducing the district's estimated $557 million deficit in 2012-13.

Despite the delay in cuts, however, the board still authorized the issuance of layoff-warning notices for thousands of teachers and LAUSD employees, although those notices will not be sent until at least March 8 to allow time for labor negotiations and potential improvements in state funding for the district.

"There will be cuts," board member Steven Zimmer warned the hundreds of union members, parents and teachers who attended the board's meeting to oppose the proposed cuts. "And until our leaders in Sacramento understand that it's a crime against children to be 49th in the nation in funding of education ... we will be here together. We have heard your voices. We are trying everything that we can."

Zimmer, who proposed the delay in the cuts, said the postponement means the district will "not implement what we are preparing for until the last possible conceivable moment on March 8 to allow the maximum time for all of our bargaining units to avoid the chaos of mass layoffs."

Deasy presented the board with a laundry list of proposed cuts aimed at slashing the district's $557 million budget deficit for the coming school year. Most notable among the cuts was the elimination of adult-education, arts and early childhood education programs. Cafeteria workers, librarians and counselors were also on the cutting block.

The superintendent's cost-cutting plan included layoff-warning notices for all permanent and non-permanent adult, career-education and early education teachers, 3,516 permanent teachers, 589 support-services personnel and 100 non- permanent teachers.

Zimmer said he wanted Deasy to come back to the board in two weeks with alternatives to eliminating programs wholesale, although he acknowledged that the district was definitely going to have to make cuts.

"There's a difference between drastic cuts and catastrophic cuts," he said.

Board member Marguerite LaMotte agreed, saying, "Something's gonna have to be cut, we just don't want to cut it all."

Deasy said he would begin the process of drafting a proposed parcel tax - - a levy on every property on the tax rolls within the district. The tax would have to brought back to the board for final approval, and a decision would still have to be made on whether to put it on the ballot in June, November or next March.

Among those speaking to the board in opposition to the cuts in arts programs were actress/dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen and Velvet Revolver/Guns 'n' Roses drummer Matt Sorum.

"If this proposal does not get changed, we are dropping a nuclear bomb on our kids," Allen told the kids.

Also making pleas to the board were City Council members Eric Garcetti and Richard Alarcon.

"As we aim to bring high-quality businesses into the city it makes it more and more difficult to argue that there is a long and deep workforce that is skilled and can provide them the workforce they need to build a healthy economy for the future," Alarcon said. "If we reduce those opportunities in education we will reduce our capacity to lure those companies into our neighborhoods, and it will diminish the economic opportunity for those neighborhoods and reduce the overall tax base for the city of Los Angeles. I don't know how that helps the educational system."

- City News Service

steve February 15, 2012 at 08:35 PM
So my kids go to private school, costs me an arm and a leg, I choose this because LAUSD Schools for the most part suck really bad. I'm already paying a tone of money on my Property Taxes each year now, why do I need to pay more again? What needs to be done is this, if I do not use the LAUSD School System, I need a credit on my Property Taxes. The problem with this City is its run by lawyers, not business people. Business people need to run businesses to make them work. Lawyers working as School Superintendents or Lawyers working as City Councilmen do not know how to do this or they would have there own private practice making millions instead of making $200K a year off the back of my tax dollars putting us further in the whole everyday. Do you see them saying pay us more and we will give you a better education, no, no, no. Look at the stats on LAUSD Schools against the rest of the country, they are bad, very bad. Look at what LAUSD Teachers get paid, 20% more than the rest of the country. Why would you want to pay more taxes to get the same crappy education and pay more taxes so that they can continue to pay a people like teacher Mark Berndt the $40K pay off hush money as well as his salary and full retirement while he rots in jail for 25 years. Come on guys, wake up. The system needs reform, the only way to do this is to initially choke it to force reform. Don't fall for the old "its for the Kids routine" you are smarter than that.
Brooke Wirtschafter February 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Steve, you seem to be making two arguments here: One is that people who don't use public schools shouldn't have to pay for them. However, for the last hundred years we as a nation have moved progressively toward the idea that a free public education system benefits the whole society, not just those with children currently enrolled. Do you think we should revoke that? Your second argument seems to be that LAUSD is broken and that it doesn't deserve more money. I think this is a perspective that many people share. However, LAUSD like every other school system in California and many across the nation, has had to absorb huge cuts over the last few years. Most teachers are not Mark Berndt. About 700,000 students attend LAUSD schools. Do you think they will get a better education or that society will be better served if these schools have even smaller budgets next year?
steve February 16, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Schools are being impacted by the 300,000 students out of those 700,000 that are children of parents paying no taxes and sending most of there money across the Boarder to Mexico and not spending it here at home putting money back into that same system they are asking me to prop up even more. Free Public Education is fine, I agree with that, if its benefiting the right people, if I have to pay more to benefit those that pay nothing into the system, that is wrong. Surely you can agree with that? What - just because I have a mortgage on a property I should have expendable income to pay more with this parcel tax to benefit those that pay nothing at all? Please Which rolls into why the schools are broke and classrooms are over crowded and there is not enough money to go round, as we are paying for and LAUSD is funding those that pay nothing at all. As far as smaller budgets next year, they need to start treating these schools and these budgets like a business person would. If its all about the children's education, and LAUSD want to continue to fund the education of those that pay nothing into the system, then teachers should not be apposed to paying some of there own health care benefits and retirement benefits so that classroom programs are not effected. They have a Cadillac Plan now, get a Chevrolet Plan. We all have to make cuts.

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