Tuesday, November 24, 2009

When a little transparency reveals a little too much: AALA & SUPERINTENDENT CORTINES’ FRIDAY THE 13th LETTER

From the AALA WEEKLY UPDATE NEWSLETTER Week of November 16, 2009

On Friday, November 13, Superintendent Cortines e-mailed a letter to LAUSD union presidents in which he stated that our District is facing a projected $480 million budget shortfall for the 2010-2011 school year. He asked each union “. . .to become a partner in finding a shared solution to the issue.” He further stated, “Without your shared commitment, this District will see layoffs of more than 7,500 to 8,500 personnel, which will result in more than 14,000 employees being noticed for possible reduction in force.”

The Superintendent went on to outline his solutions to the budget crisis: (1) Four furlough days this school year, in 2010, and (2) A 12% salary cut for 2010-2011. He explained that each furlough day is worth $15 million to the District. One percent salary cut is equal to $40 million. Simple multiplication reveals that implementation of the Superintendent’s solutions yields $540 million. He wrote that layoffs will commence on July 1, 2010, if LAUSD bargaining units do not agree with his proposed “solutions.”

In AALA’s biweekly meeting with Superintendent Cortines on Monday, November 16, 2009, we asked for clarification regarding several points in his Friday the 13th Letter. Our questions and his responses follow:

AALA: Some of the statements in your letter are inconsistent with your comments at the Board meeting on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, where you said that you would ask for either a 9% salary cut or nine furlough days to address the 2010-2011 deficit.

Superintendent: There was no contradiction.

AALA: Could you please clarify if the four furlough days are for this year or next year?

Superintendent: This year.

AALA: Please explain what cuts you are going to recommend.

Superintendent: The Board already approved some cuts. I’m going to add some things and delete some things.

AALA: Did you look at the percentage of cuts each bargaining unit endured for 2009-2010?

Superintendent: No, and I’m not going to!

AALA: You cut over 500+ AALA members for the 2009-2010 school year—20% of our membership.

Superintendent: I’m not going to negotiate with you!

AALA: AALA has suggestions for budget savings and for the District to enhance revenue. When will AALA staff have the opportunity to discuss these recommendations with you?

Superintendent: I don’t know!

AALA has additional questions for the Superintendent:

• Why would you send a letter threatening to cut 8,500 employee positions if you are not willing to answer AALA’s questions and provide clarification?

• Why do you persist in calling your unilateral approach a request for “partnerships” with bargaining units when you seem to be unwilling to listen to our suggestions for budget savings and revenue enhancement?

• Why are you asking LAUSD employees to subsidize a $540 million deficit when you identified $480 million as the projected shortfall? Why should the bargaining units shoulder the entire burden of the deficit? What other solutions have you identified?

AALA requested last week that the District schedule immediate negotiations. Why has the District neglected to follow through?

●●smf: with time of the essence and the deadlines looming, this becomes the question!

• How much of the projected $480 million deficit will be caused by a potential hand-over of LAUSD schools to unregulated charter operators? If the Board did not pursue its Public School Choice Resolution, how much revenue would be saved?

●●smf: O.K., That was the question!

In past years when a budget crisis loomed, the District provided the County with potential reductions to reflect a balanced budget. The projected budget is always modified by variables yet to occur, such as the Governor’s budget projections in January 2010 and potential resource enhancements. Threatening employees does not create an atmosphere in which we can partner to address the current crisis. The District should interact now with the bargaining units to prioritize potential cuts, with the understanding that maximum preservation of school sites is necessary, along with essential services for all students and staff members.

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