By Jason Song | LA Times
November 14, 2009 -- Los Angeles school district officials asked union members Friday to agree to four furlough days this year and a future 12% pay cut to help offset a nearly $500-million budget shortfall next year.
Without the concessions, the district may have to lay off up to 8,500 employees this summer, according to a letter to employees from Supt. Ramon C. Cortines. L.A. Unified, the nation's second-largest district, faces nearly a $60-million deficit this year and a projected $480-million shortfall next year, and Cortines said he expects future reductions in state funding.
The district "will no longer be able to maintain its current workforce and programs without concessions from our unions," wrote Cortines, who said he would continue to recommend reductions in central and district offices.
In his letter, Cortines said that each furlough day would save the district approximately $15 million And that a 12% pay cut in 2010-11 could save as much as $480 million.
Last spring, the school board agreed to nearly $1.6 billion in cuts over the next three years.
Cortines has said that he is against furlough days, but "we are being forced to function in a different way than in the past," he wrote.
Furlough days or salary reductions must be bargained with employee unions. Layoffs do not need to be negotiated but can occur only after a long process laid out in state law and the teachers' contract. Instructors recently agreed to a contract that does not include a pay raise for this year.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the district could begin layoffs on July 1.
L.A. Unified officials have said for months that they need union help to balance the books. Earlier this year, bus drivers accepted six unpaid days.
District officials must submit a balanced three-year budget to county officials before mid-December.
Judith Perez, the president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents middle managers in the district, said she would discuss the letter with Cortines at a 6 a.m. Monday meeting but that she was generally opposed to furlough days.
Teachers union officials could not be reached for comment.