Tuesday, January 26, 2010

LAUSD MAY FACE BIGGER BUDGET HOLE: Cuts in state budget plan could mean loss of another $200 million.

By Connie Llanos, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

01/26/2010 | 08:35:20 PM PST -- Already reeling from a series of financial hits in the past year, Los Angeles Unified School District officials recently learned that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new state budget plan could chop an additional $200 million from the district next year.

“After carving deeply into California’s K-12 budget over the past two years, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vowed Wednesday to spare schools from further cuts in the budget he will propose for fiscal 2011.” - Ed Week | Jan 6, 2010 | http://bit.ly/d6avDc

LAUSD was already facing an expected budget deficit of $470 million next year. But officials found tucked in the fine print of the governor's budget an additional, unexpected cut of $250 per student for 2010-11, potentially raising the district's deficit to $670 million.

The discovery comes just six weeks before the district faces a state deadline to begin handing out pink slips to teachers and administrators who could be laid off next year.

LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly said while the governor's plan keeps education funding at last year's level, it also retains cuts that were supposed to be restored.

"More cuts will have to happen to address these hidden cuts to education," Reilly said.

The grim news comes a month after district officials approved a two-year budget plan that included eliminating some 5,000 jobs, including 1,400 teachers, 1,000 janitors and maintenance workers and 520 school office workers through 2012.

That plan also left K-3 student-teacher ratios at 29:1; slashed arts and music programs at elementary schools in half; and cut back school nurses, cops and aides.

LAUSD Board president Monica Garcia urged employee unions to share the pain and agree to other cuts that could help avoid another devastating round of layoffs.

LAUSD laid off about 2,500 teachers and 2,800 non-teaching school workers in 2009.

"The choices we face now are hard and we are at a place where no one wants to be," Garcia said.

"We need to work together with our bargaining units. ... In 2010 to tell a family that they do not have a job is a very serious thing."

Officials said the district can save $40 million for every 1percent salary cut approved by bargaining units. One furlough day saves about $15 million.

To date, SEIU Local 99, representing mostly custodians and cafeteria workers, has agreed to four furlough days for 2009-10 and the union's bus drivers have approved 10furlough days this year to prevent cuts to their unit.

Also, the California School Employees Association and the Building and Trades Council Unit E reached a tentative agreement last month for four unpaid work days.

A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles - LAUSD's largest employee union - said teachers would not accept furloughs or pay cuts until district officials proved all other cuts had been made.

"We'll sit down and talk to the district about how we can help it find its way out of this financial crisis ... but only if they open their books and let us make suggestions on what else they can cut," Duffy said.

District officials have also talked about asking voters in November 2010 to approve a limited parcel tax, for up to $200 million.

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