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L.A. school board restores full school year, full pay

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday swiftly voted to restore a full academic year -- and full pay for employees -- a week after California voters approved a revenue measure that protects schools and universities from further budget cuts this year.

After a brief presentation from L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy, the board voted 7-0 without discussion to approve the restoration.

As a result, the academic year for students will increase from 175 to the full 180 days and employees will get back 10 days of lost pay. The move will not return the jobs of thousands who have been laid off over the last three years of declining budgets and enrollment.

Deasy said he had been prepared for a more gloomy post-election denouement, including a school year shortened by 20 days, but "the terrible reality of immediate cuts" will not occur because voters approved Proposition 30. That initiative will result in temporary increases in the sales tax as well as the income tax on high earners.

Proposition 30 was designed to protect the current budget, not to provide an immediate windfall, but Deasy said the district still could afford to reverse previously approved cuts.

Overall, the budget outlook is "a sober picture but it’s not catastrophic,” Deasy said. "The immediate good news," he added, is "the ability to finally say to our employees: You work a whole year and you get paid a whole year.”

For students and parents, the restored school days will be added to the second semester. In the short term that means Thanksgiving will remain a one-week holiday period this year, starting Monday. Deasy said it would be too disruptive to families to revise the fall schedule.

Separately, Deasy warned of yet another budget shortfall for next year, and of the federal "fiscal cliff" -- the automatic budget cuts that would occur unless there is a deal between President Obama and Congress. Failing a deal, L.A. Unified would have to make up for a shortfall in excess of $60 million before next year, he said.

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-- Howard Blume

 
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