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Protests over cutbacks at L.A. Unified schools

November 19, 2010 |  6:00 am

School employees are handing out leaflets to parents Friday morning, decrying the latest round of layoffs, program cuts and pay reductions to befall the Los Angeles Unified School District.

On this round of a seemingly never-ending budget crisis, many affected employees are clerical workers, plant managers and staff in the facilities division.

All told, about 4,800 employees received notice Oct. 15 that they would be losing their current jobs. For about 1,000, the notice means they will be out the door entirely. The rest face moving to new positions, many of them with different locations and duties, and almost universally for lower pay.

With state funding shrinking, "we still may be forced to make additional cuts, as unfortunate as it is," said district spokeswoman Lydia Ramos. "It's daunting and it's sad."

Parents, teachers and principals have especially rallied around elementary school plant managers, saying they play an essential role in keeping schools clean and safe, with a deep understanding of an individual campus that could not be matched with the new, money-saving alternative: roving teams of cleaners moving from school to school.

Plant managers are represented by a Teamsters local, but a substantial portion of the organizing for the informational picketing was being handled by the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles.

In the facilities division, 482 notices went out, resulting in 100 people leaving the district and pay cuts for nearly all of the rest, said James Sohn, head of facilities.

These cuts have resulted in allegations that outside consultants are taking up a disproportionate share of the duties once handled by district employees. Sohn has denied this, saying the ranks of consultants have been thinned as well.

He added that the new method for keeping schools clean is a necessity—there was not enough money left to staff school maintenance using the prior system.

ALSO:

UC regents approve 8% tuition increase for fall 2011

L.A. teachers union endorses loyalists for school board races

-- Howard Blume

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