By Melissa Pamer - Staff Writer | Daily Breeze/L.A. Newspaper Group | http://bit.ly/bLIhMz
10-19-2010 - Nearly a thousand support staff in the Los Angeles Unified School District will soon lose their jobs, while more than three times as many will be forced to transfer to new positions in an upheaval that one official termed "musical chairs."
So-called reduction-in-force notices were sent out to about 4,600 classified staff on Friday, district officials said. Of those workers, about 990 were told they will be laid off Nov. 30.
The remaining personnel were ordered to report to new work sites - and in many cases to fulfill different duties at a lower salary or for fewer hours - on Dec. 1.
Employees ranging from office technicians and cafeteria workers to custodians to secretaries are affected.
The midsemester tumult likely will be widespread at each of the district's more than 800 campuses, as well as local district offices and downtown headquarters, said LAUSD interim Personnel Director Ann Young-Havens.
"With these types of numbers, we're seeing every office and every school being affected," Young-Havens said. "No matter how you look at it, it's really tough to disrupt the school and change personnel. I'm not going to say the folks coming in are not qualified ... but it's disruptive to a community."
The layoffs and related jobs shuffle come midsemester - instead of over the summer - in part because union agreements allowing furloughs needed to be finalized, Young-Havens said. She said her department didn't have a list of positions that needed to be eliminated until mid-September, though a 2010-11 budget requiring thousands of layoffs to address a $640 million deficit was approved in June.
District officials said that federal stimulus funding helped save 8,400 jobs in 2009-10 and this year. That money will run out next summer, and the district is preparing for more cuts for 2011-12.
Last week, the Board of Education reaffirmed a plan to cut up to 250 elementary school plant managers, who may be able to use their seniority status to "bump" lower-ranked custodians.
Many of those affected by the classified layoffs appear to be older employees, said Connie Moreno, a union representative with the Los Angeles chapter of the California School Employees Association.
The union has seen its membership - which largely includes minority women who have children in the district - shrink through layoffs from about 7,100 last year to about 5,300 now, Moreno said.
The local chapter has been swamped with pleas for help from members who have been unable to get assistance from the district's Personnel Commission, Moreno said.
"They have a hotline to respond to questions that employees have but it's so jammed the employees can't even leave messages," she said of the district. "It's absolute chaos."
Moreno said CSEA has sued the district to try to obtain a list showing the seniority status of its members. Without such a list, she said, the union is not certain if seniority guidelines are being followed.
An official at another union representing classified staff, Service Employees International Union Local 99, said the district had not yet said how many members would be lose jobs.
Young-Havens said LAUSD was seeking to accommodate "most senior" employees by transferring them to locations as near as possible to their homes or former schools.
Requiring all of the affected employees to switch to new positions on Dec. 1 is necessary so that no jobs go unfilled, Young-Havens said, calling it "musical chairs."