Saturday, November 14, 2009


City News Service

Saturday, November 14, 2009 -- LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles schools Superintendent Ramon Cortines told union officials that all employees must accept furloughs and pay cuts this year and next, or the district will be forced to lay off as many as 8,500 employees, it was reported today.

Cortines said the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second most populous behind the New York City public school system, is looking at $480 million budget deficit for the 2010-11 school year, the Daily News reported.

Cortines is asking all employees to accept four furlough days this year and a 12 percent pay cut next year, according to the newspaper.

Service Employees International Union Local 99 and the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles said they were open to discuss the concessions. A representative for United Teachers Los Angeles was unavailable to the Daily News for comment Friday.

In a letter sent to union leaders Friday, Cortines called the situation "the worst budget crisis in years" and urged all bargaining units to cooperate.

The district largely avoided layoffs this school year by offering early retirement packages.

"We are looking at one in five employees who will be informed that they may lose their jobs," Cortines wrote.

Without concessions, the district would need to lay off 7,500-8,500 employees, and that would require 14,000 reduction-in-force notices to go out in March.

About 8,000 notices went out in March, but many of those employees were able to keep their jobs or move to other posts within the district.

All of the district's eight employee unions would have to agree to concessions before Dec. 8, when the district is supposed to submit a balanced three-year budget to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

A SEIU representative said about 500 custodial jobs were cut this year.

Earlier this year, the LAUSD eliminated more than 5,000 positions -- 2,000 teachers, 400 counselors and an estimated 2,800 nonteaching jobs to cover a $596 million deficit. But, thanks in part to federal economic stimulus funding, many of those workers were rehired as other employees took an early retirement incentive package.

No unions made concessions for the current school year.

Nex year, The district projected that it would need to eliminate full- day kindergarten and all arts and music programs to close a projected budget deficit of $1.1 billion through 2012, the Daily News reported.

Officials also included concessions that they hoped to get from employee unions, including 27 furlough days for out-of-classroom teachers and a 5 percent salary reduction for all district staff.

The four furlough days that officials are asking for this year would cover an existing deficit of between $50 million and $60 million this year, district officials told the newspaper.

The 12 percent pay cut would cover the $480 million deficit projected for next year -- one that Cortines and other officials said could grow even bigger, the Daily News reported.

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