Monday, November 23, 2009

LA SCHOOLS CHIEF ORDERS HIRING FREEZE: Ramon Cortinez (sic) also announced other expense cuts.

LAUSD Superintendent of Schools Ramon Cortines.

Text Story by City News Service | Posted by: Scott Coppersmith

Monday, 23 Nov 2009, 2:54 PM PST -- Los Angeles - In the face of a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines ordered an immediate hiring freeze today and cut other expenses, including travel, conferences and food at district meetings.

Cortines said the district is facing an estimated $50 million to $60 million deficit this year and a possible $480 million deficit for the 2010-11 school year.

"As a result of the financial challenges that we are facing, it is imperative that we ensure that every dollar we spend is essential to the operation of this district, and more importantly, supports our instructional mission," he said. "Therefore, effective immediately, I am placing a freeze on the hiring and filling of vacancies; travel, conference and convention attendance; procurement of contracted professional development services; the rental of non-district facilities and the purchase of catering or refreshments to be served at employee meetings."

The only exceptions to the hiring freeze will be for classroom teachers, principals, assistant principals, cafeteria managers, school police officers, bus drivers teachers' assistants, education aides, special education assistants and plant managers.

According to the district, other exceptions will only be considered for requests that are considered essential to school and district operations.

Cortines said he ordered the cuts in response to the state's dire financial outlook, which will likely result in further reductions in the district's budget. The state Legislative Analyst's Office released a report last week indicating that California would be facing a $20.7 billion budget shortfall next year.

Cortines, who came under fire in the past year when the district issued thousands of layoff notices to teachers and other employees to help balance the budget, said LAUSD will again have to tighten its belt. The district is required to submit a 2010-11 budget to the county Office of Education by Dec. 15.

The LAUSD board is expected to meet Dec. 8 to vote on the district's budget.

"Despite the pressure of a severely curtailed budget, despite the challenge of meeting our education mandate, we will live up to our responsibility to educate the children of LAUSD," Cortines said. "We owe it to our students to provide them with the best instruction and support possible no matter the obstacles. Students are the core of our existence and we will not be distracted from our mission."

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