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Protests over cutbacks at L.A. Unified schools

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.


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-- Howard Blume

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Comments () | Archives (13)

The root of the school budget problem is the way which California school districts are allocated money from the state.

School Districts are not allowed to simply increase their general funds and budgets by tapping local tax revenues. If they do so, the state simply decreases the amount of money it provides.

This system dates back to the 1970's and was implemented to ensure students in lower economic counties and school districts receive the same levels of state funding as students in more prosperous areas.

Worse, local school bonds cannot be used for general operating expenses or educational purposes.

Of course, we have no money so lets take it away from the kids education. We don't need smart kids. Why don't we make all politicians go on a volunteer status for 2 years. Their outrages salaries taken out of the equation will be sufficient to keep all the schools open in LA County. Most of the politicians are rich anyways and what is 2 years without a salary for them. Im sure they are not worried about the schools loosing teachers because their kids are going to private schools.

How about cutting some of that administrative bloat at the very top of LAUSD? Oh.
That's been suggested millions of times already by teachers, classified staff, and parents who are working everyday in the schools with the students?
Never mind.
Carry on and continue cutting from the bottom because the school district does not want the obvious solution to its budget problem that will actually make a difference.

LAUSD has a 700,000 million dollar surplus and they are laying of classified people to save 24 million dollars??? Everyone knows it's the classified staff who run the school, but Cortines is bent on destroying the district.

We had a good bye party yesterday for 8 secretaries that were cut from our school.Some had been there as long as 22 years, with children to support, and now no benefits or jobs. These cuts can't go any deeper without a terminal effect on the schools. You can't have it both ways, better schools but no finacial support for them. We had to send in a petition to get our roof fixed, both adults and children are being pushed aside as umimportant, while everyone knows education is central to a working western society. I'm not a believer in no money out there, it's there, but the corporations who don't pay taxes, the shelters that protect the rich, the wanton waste of government and the overriding stinginess and greed of wall street and others has created this mess, and the children the weakest members of our society suffer the most. Hey they can't protest at political rallies so no one listens. Shame on us all.

If all education employees would take a 5% pay cut, none of this would be necessary.


how in the world can a school need 8 secretaries?

Sounds like a huge misallocation of resources.

Derek, where have you gained your specialized knowledge on how many employees it takes to make a school run? Some schools have 3,000 to 4,000 students. How many secretaries would a school of that size need? With the cuts to custodial staff perhaps the secretaries who are left can put a broom handle in their behind and sweep while they do their regular duties.

It is difficult to make a case that these layoffs are impacting the students. LAUSD is the worst performing school district in the United Sates. The graduation rate is 40.6%, and the dropout rates have been at, or near, 50% for the 3rd consecutive decade.

It is very hard for taxpayers to be sympathetic and outraged about "plant managers," clerical and secretarial staff when the schools are such a disaster. Poor academic performance, low graduation rates, and high dropout rates have become a characteristic of LAUSD Schools. The LAUSD Board of Education, the Mayor, LAUSD Administration, School Administration, and the UTLA are all complicit. To fail so miserably on such a large scale cannot be blamed on a single group. In fact, one can argue that the “system” was structured in such a way that no single group can be held accountable. 40.6% graduation rates???

When LAUSD and the UTLA have a protest march about how poorly the children of this city are being served academically, call me. Otherwise; I find it very hard to care.

P.S. Don’t email me that it’s the parents and students faults. Teachers who blame students for poor performance should be removed from the school grounds immediately. Their cynicism is an act of cowardice that has no place around young minds.

Julia, it is time for parents who do not pay property taxes pay a tax as well to educate their children. Property owners can no longer handle the load alone thanks to FED. Government educating non citizens.

Derek, you need to take a 5% pay cut, and see how it feels. I have taken a pay cut, and it is more than 5%. Classified staff are the ones running the schools, and these are the people you see first.

Arnold Thomas, it is the students, parents(some), the teachers, and the administrators that are at fault in that order. Over 50% of the parents do not check to see if their children are doing their homework. There are after school, and Saturday classes for students to get help.

Too much money has been wasted on consultant fees that the schools could have used, and still need.

Derek ,
We are presently taking 7 furlough days this year which amounts to a pay cut, we took 5 last year. We haven't received any pay raise in over 6 years and are constantly threatened with lay offs. We spend more and more of our own money on supplies. You all think you know what's going on but you don't, the roof feel in on my head during last years Christmas party and the floor leaked like a sponge everytime it rained for 2 years. You really don't get it, Calif. isn't paying for education, and you're going to get what you pay for, undereducated kids, teachers bolting , and an underclass of people who can't think, spell, write or read.

Doesn't anyone find it amazing that LAUSD has been in a financial crisis every year for the past three years and Cortines has been superintendent for the past three years. In the past, and I have over 48 years experience in LAUSD, we always used attrition to cut positions when budgets were short. Every year an average of 500 or more employees retire or move. Once these positions are cut, you save that money in out years...and need I mention that employees have not received a pay raise and in effect have received pay cuts for the past three or more years...that is ongoing money saved as well. Cortines does not have a clue as to how to budget for schools...his only answer is to keep crying cut, cut, cut and woe is me. Where is his leadership to show how money that is saved benefitting the schools. He has never run a successful school district and yet he keeps getting the position of Superintendent ...... go figure. I say that LAUSD should hire a true educator, maybe Bill Johnston will come out of retirement.

fire the district spokeswoman. she hangs up whenever an interviewer asks a question she doesn't like. what is "daunting and sad" appears to be the district's priorities--PR before student safety, nutrition and education.
lausd, shut down that ethics office! clearly it's as dysfunctional as your talking head and these funds can be used for reducing class size or restoring arts and music programs--anything would be better than squandering taxpayers' cash on grifters and pretenses.


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