Friday, April 16, 2010

C.O.P.S.: Statement from UTLA President A.J. Duffy on School Board approval of plan that would prioritize capital projects over education priorities

from utla website

April 14, 2010: United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) strongly condemns the actions of LAUSD (approved by the School Board yesterday) to use Certificates of Participation (COPS) to fund a variety of capital projects that should instead be funded through voter-approved bonds.  These projects include replacing school buses, fixing a school auditorium and installing solar panels at 90 schools

COPS must be repaid from the General Fund. Using COPS for these projects will add a $360 million hole to the General Fund, at a time when the District claims to be in a dire financial situation.  Funding projects this way prioritizes capital improvement projects over student-focused education priorities like lowering class sizes and caseloads for counselors, psychologists and other health and human services professionals.  The General Fund is also the source of funds for restoring layoffs and maintaining class sizes.

While UTLA supports capital improvements and projects that create jobs, these projects should be funded through the traditional and appropriate source – bonds that are approved for just this purpose.  LAUSD’s claim to minimize the cost to the General Fund by setting the COPS up as interest-only and waiting until a time when bond funds are available is an irresponsible bait-and- switch tactic that the public should not accept.

Teachers have just agreed to unpaid furlough days to stop class size increases and save colleagues’ jobs for the benefit of students, not to help LAUSD fund projects.  For the District to take this action just days after UTLA members agreed to cut their pay is a slap in the face of employees. 

The priority of LAUSD should always be students and the classroom.  Actions like this perpetuate employee distrust of the LAUSD and call into question the District’s priorities.

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