Thursday, September 22, 2011


BUDGET: District set to let go more than 1,100 nonteaching employees.

By Connie Llanos, LA Daily News Staff Writer – from the Long Beach Press Telegram |

9/21/2011 10:50:27 PM PDT- Angel Barrett, principal of Plummer Elementary in North Hills, stays busy at her campus, where she regularly supervises her nearly 1,000 students during meal breaks, answers parent phone calls, translates teacher conferences and even trims rose bushes.

Come next week though, her workload will be growing substantially.

Plummer is set to lose two office clerks and a plant manager Friday, as Los Angeles Unified School District lays off more than 1,100 nonteaching employees to help balance its budget.

Plummer already lost a library aide last year, leading to a shutdown of the school's library.

"I am not complaining. ... We will find a way to make it work," Barrett said.

"But at some point we are going to have to look at our new education system and figure out how we continue to take care of our infrastructure when we are losing all of our supports."

LAUSD officials closed a $408million budget deficit for the 2011-12 school year using employee concessions and layoffs, including the loss of office clerks, library aides, campus aides and other school workers.

The final cuts to schools were less drastic than "worst-case scenario" predictions district officials presented in February.

After most employee unions agreed to take four furlough days and the state budget appeared to take a turn for the better, many of the more than 7,000 layoffs that had been expected were prevented.

Most of the workers who are being cut this week come from two of the district's nine unions, those that failed to reach a furlough deal with management.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said he was "incredibly frustrated" with those unions' refusal to make concessions, but leaders for the California School Employees Association and the Teamsters union have said repeatedly that furloughs would not have saved most of these positions.

Union leaders also accused the district of withholding information during negotiations.

Still, the loss of what many call the "backbone" staff at campuses will be a challenge for schools as they continue trying to improve graduation rates, test scores and parent engagement with less help.

"Any cut is a bad cut," Deasy said. "This is yet another example of the pathetic way that the state of California is funding its schools."

Since 2008, LAUSD has laid off more than 4,600 teachers, principals, counselors and other school support staff and 3,000 office clerks, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other school personnel, according to district documents.

Barrett said her school has lost two of the four office clerks she had working three years ago. The campus supervision staff has also been sliced in half as well as her custodial team.

Many school workers who are losing their jobs this week have also been shuffled from campus to campus for the last three years.

Maria Virgen, who has worked as an office clerk for LAUSD since 2001, has been moved to three schools in the last year.

Each time she had to learn the dynamics of a new campus and a new staff. She said she's made things work because she loves working with children.

"I think now I'm ready to find something with more stability," Virgen said. "But it's hard, these are really difficult times."

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