Wednesday, April 22, 2009


By George B. Sanchez, Staff Writer | LA Newspaper Group/Daily News

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses the city's budget woes during an interview with the Daily News editorial board. (Evan Yee/Staff Photographer)

April 22, 2009 - With the leadership of his schools in doubt, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday sharpened his attack on L.A. Unified plans to layoff nearly 7,000 employees and said the teacher's union needed to make concessions to get the school district through the rough patch.

The Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, the 10 LAUSD schools overseen by Villaraigosa and his staff, stands to lose all of its principals and assistant principals - 49 people - as well as 20 percent of its teachers - approximately 200 educators - under the district's cost-cutting plan.

The district faces a deficit expected to reach $1.3 billion over the next three years.

"You cut 4,500 teachers in this town, you're going to kill the reform effort, you're going to kill my Partnership schools and you're going to kill education in L.A.," Villaraigosa told Daily News editors and reporters at an editorial board meeting.

Offering his own solution, Villaraigosa said if district officials implemented a 3 percent district-wide wage cut and further snipped central office staff, it could cover the rest of its massive budget with federal stimulus funds.

The mayor noted that schools in low-income neighborhoods are getting hit especially hard because many of their teachers are new. State seniority laws force teachers with less than two years experience to be dismissed before tenured teachers. As a result, some schools will lose up to 70 percent of their teaching staff, replaced in some cases by administrators or office staff who haven't taught in years.

The disproportionate number of layoffs at poor schools, Villaraigosa suggested, could be grounds for a civil rights lawsuit.

Villaraigosa said it's time to change the law that preserves seniority during layoffs.

"I'm hearing it from teachers everywhere. They're saying `Why should I get thrown under the bus because I'm a new teacher?"'

Renewing his call for shared sacrifice, Villaraigosa said LAUSD's employee unions, particularly United Teachers, Los Angeles, must agree to short-term concessions to get through the current budget crisis.

Villaraigosa insinuated the UTLA leadership is out of touch with its rank and file membership. Stopping short of mentioning UTLA President A.J. Duffy by name, Villaraigosa said teachers union leaders need to end their chest pounding and demagoguery.

Responding to the mayor's call for shared sacrifice, Duffy said teachers sacrifice every day of every week of every year.

"The mayor would serve the community best by pressuring his allies on the board to finally complete the job of cutting all the bureaucratic fat out of the budget," Duffy said.

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