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L.A. administrators ratify shorter school year; some small schools will stay open

April 20, 2010 |  9:28 pm

Administrators have overwhelmingly approved a deal that would shorten the school year this year and next, officials announced Tuesday.

The pact will reduce the number of employee layoffs in the Los Angeles Unified School District and, with other measures, will forestall some class-size increases.

About 55% of eligible administrators cast ballots and 91% voted to accept a school year reduced from 180 to 175 days, said Judith Perez, president of Associated Administrators of Los Angeles. Administrators will also forgo two paid days next year when students are not at school.

Negotiations with L.A. Unified also resulted in the preservation of eight small elementary schools that would have closed, Perez added. In addition, the district backed down from mandating part-time principals at 34 elementary schools with fewer than 300 students, she said.

“This is the best agreement we possibly could have reached given the economic situation faced by California and the school district.” Perez said.

For each surrendered day, administrators lose about half a percent of their annual pay, said district spokeswoman Lydia Ramos.

Earlier, district teachers had approved a similar pact, resulting in a combined $140 million in savings toward projected budget deficits of $640 million for next year and $243 million the year after.

Despite the wage concessions, hundreds of employees still face losing jobs.

Administrators returned their ballots by the April 15 deadline, but the results were not tabulated and released till Tuesday afternoon.

Perez said she was especially pleased by the district reversing course on closing schools and having schools share principals.

Among the schools spared was Clifford Elementary in Echo Park, which is among the higher rated schools in California, based on test scores. Clifford has consistently enrolled fewer than 200 students in recent years.

Perez credited L.A. schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines for accepting arguments about logistics and school safety. Clifford Street, for example, serves a neighborhood of steep hills bordered by high-traffic zones. Children walking to school elsewhere would have faced considerable challenges.

Three small schools were not spared, said Perez:  Bellevue Primary Center in Silver Lake, the Kindergarten Learning Academy in Van Nuys and West Valley Special Education Center in Lake Balboa.

West Valley’s anticipated closure has sparked an outcry among parents of disabled students.

Most other district employee unions also have accepted unpaid days off.

-- Howard Blume