LAUSD employees get 'bump' to new locations
By Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer | Daily News/Daily Breeze | http://bit.ly/gFiGwv
12/02/2010 - A day after more than 1,000 Los Angeles Unified clerks, janitors and classroom aides lost their jobs, about 2,000 more reported Wednesday to new work sites in the latest round of cost-saving personnel moves.
The reassignments - coupled with 1,023 layoffs and about 1,600 demotions or pay reductions - are designed to help the district stave off staff reductions during the 2011-12 school year.
But those "bumped" to new positions - some on the opposite side of the sprawling school district - found the mid-semester move disconcerting at best.
Among them was office worker Elvira Lopez Loa, who was reassigned Wednesday to a high school in West Los Angeles - her third "bump" in the last year.
"I am very grateful to at least have a job but the commute is driving me crazy," said Loa, of Sylmar, who worked 23 years at an elementary campus in nearby San Fernando before being reassigned last year to a school in Pico Unon and, three months later, San Pedro.
"I had a home at my school, I still call it my home ... I just wish they could let me stay ... This is a major disruption for schools."
Leaders of the union representing the non-teaching workers had hoped the district would use $130 million in federal money to preserve the jobs.
But in a letter sent Wednesdasy to employees, Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the federal money was more critical to operations in fiscal 2011-12.
"We are attempting to bring stability during these turbulent times. If we don't use these dollars in 2011-2012 to preserve jobs, then our challenge becomes worse, rather than better," Cortines wrote.
The district has used layoffs, furloughs and other cuts to address a $640 million deficit this year. Nearly 2,200 classified staff and more than 2,700 certificated employees - largely teachers - have been laid off since the state began dramatic cuts to education funding in 2008.
At the same time, LAUSD enrollment has dropped by about 10 percent since its peak in 2002, reducing attendance-based funding the district gets from Sacramento.
"We're in a situation where we're trying to adjust our reality," said district spokeswoman Lydia Ramos. "The district is not going to look the same way it did five years, six years ago."
Anna Ciaramitaro, who was laid off after five years as an attendance clerk at San Pedro High School, worries how schools will operate with fewer support staff.
"The schools cannot run without the clerks," Ciaramitaro said. "They're the backbone of the schools."
LAUSD Employees Protest Layoffs and Reduction in Hours
Written by Alex Garcia, San Fernando Sun Contributing Writer | http://bit.ly/eYiZWD
en español: Empleados de LAUSD Protestan Despidos y Recorte de Horas http://bit.ly/fCDVCQ
ALEX GARCIA / SFVS - Some 1,000 clerical workers, plant managers and aides lost their job with the Los Angeles Unified School District this week, which prompted a protest in front of the District headquarters Tuesday.
ALEX GARCIA / SFVS - Robert Grzesiak, a custodian at Chatsworth High School, was laid off and then rehired as a "sub" employee, meaning he no longer has benefits such as pension and paid vacation.
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 - This will be a sad end of the year for Robert Johns. The Teamsters member is one of hundreds of employees who were laid off by Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in an effort to combat the district's budget deficit.
"It's going to be a dry Christmas," said the truck driver, who transported food to schools.
Robert Grzesiak, a custodian at Chatsworth High School, was laid off and then rehired as a "sub" employee, meaning he no longer enjoys retirement and paid vacation benefits.
"I'm shocked I'm still here, but I guess I'm low cost," he said.
And Juana Bermudez, an office assistant at an elementary school in Glassell Park, saw her hours cut in half.
"I don't know if I'll make it," said the single mother of two. "I barely make it as it is, imagine now.
"For me, this is a day of sadness, frustration. In the middle of these hard times, this is just going to make things more difficult," added Bermudez, who has worked for LAUSD the past 14 years.
These are just some of the clerical workers, plant managers and aides who either lost their jobs, saw their hours reduced or were transferred to other schools as LAUSD tries to plug a budget deficit prompted in part by state funding cuts.
District officials sent out 4,672 layoff notices on Oct. 15. A total of 996 employees were actually laid off, along with 27 non-permanent employees.Many of those former workers and dozens of others, as well as educators, held a protest Tuesday outside of the district headquarters.
Adriana Salazar, Teamsters Local 572 representative, said the cuts would "cripple" LAUSD. "They'll be crippled without administrative and custodial workers," she said. "These cuts are hurting our students."
That was the same message from United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) representative Joshua Pechthalt.
ALEX GARCIA / SFVS
Juana Bermudez holds her daughter Lupita. Bermudez's hours were cut in half this week as the Los Angeles Unified School District tries to stop an ever growing budget deficit.
"We think that this is a bad move for the schools," Pechthalt said. "It really hurts the continuity at the school sites. Schools will not be kept as clean.We're losing the people who actually make the schools run properly with teachers."
Protesters demanded that the district use money from the federal jobs bill they received to save these positions.A. J.Duffy,UTLA president, gave an example of how that money could be used.
"Retaining plant managers is about a $10million item, and the money is there," he asserted.
LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines has said that the $103 million the district was awarded by the federal Education Jobs bill was set to save more than 2,000 jobs next year and using it now would be "grossly irresponsible."
The district, he said, is dealing with an ongoing $142million deficit.
Apart from employees who were laid off, the District also shifted 2,040 workers into new positions at the same pay grade.
Another 1,609 workers were assigned positions with a lower classification or given fewer working hours.
Some were also transferred to other schools.
That's the case of Cheryl Halpert, Maria Forss, Liliana Pabon and Virginia Wolf. All of them were office technicians and custodians at Chatsworth High School, but have been sent to other schools throughout the San Fernando Valley.
"We didn't want to move but nobody asked us," Halpert complained. "We didn't want to leave."
The situation was even worse for Pabon, who was initially transferred to a school in Huntington Park and had to plead with the District for a reassignment to a school closer to her home in the San Fernando Valley.
"We wanted to stay where we were, but at least we didn't lose our jobs, at least not yet," Pabon said.