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Los Angeles Unified School District workers rally against budget cuts [Updated]

September 8, 2010 |  3:09 pm

About 150 Los Angeles Unified School District employees and their school-age children rallied outside a shuttered campus Wednesday against state budget cuts that have shortened the academic year and pushed back the start of school.

Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents the district's custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and classroom aides, organized the rally at Virgil Middle School in Koreatown.

The district has slashed seven days from the academic year in its effort to eliminate a $640-million deficit, a move critics say will lead to crowded classrooms and reduced student services. Although school traditionally starts the week of Labor Day, the date has been pushed back to Sept. 13.

[Updated at 11 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the district had slashed eight days from the academic year.]

“Sacramento is not listening to California’s stated priorities,” said Terry Carter, a spokeswoman for the local union. “Working families want investments and improvements in our schools, yet Sacramento keeps cutting.”

A seventh-grader about to enter Barrack Obama Global Preparation Academy said he wants to study engineering and one day work for NASA building spaceships. But he worried his dreams may not come true because of the cutbacks.

“To get where I’m going, I’ll have to do great on every test,” Salvador Jimenez said in a statement. “I already feel like we sometimes take tests after only getting half a lesson. Cutting the school year could hurt my chances.”


A custodian at Bell High School spoke at the rally about how difficult it was to keep the campuses clean after so many janitors have been laid off, Carter said.

“She is concerned that without proper custodial services, kids may get sick and risk losing even more days,” Carter said.

Board of Education President Monica Garcia joined the rally and asked state officials not to abandon California's children.

“Sacramento has cut $17 billion from education over the past two years, and they’re threatening to cut even more,” Garcia said in a statement. “This is a step backward and it jeopardizes our students’ dreams."

-- Ching-Ching Ni

Photo: Gama Andrade, center, an LAUSD cafeteria worker, joins in the budget protest. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times