L.A. Unified to send layoff notices to hundreds of teachers

As a fallback strategy, LA Unified approves layoff notices for more than 600 teachers

Hundreds of teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District will receive layoff notices this month under a budget plan approved Tuesday by the Board of Education.

The vote does not necessarily mean that the teachers will lose their jobs, but it allows L.A. Unified the option of releasing the instructors if needed. Instructors and other employees with teaching credentials have to be notified by law of a possible layoff by March 15.

The letters to about 600 employees come during contract negotiations with the teachers union. The district, which has a general fund budget of about $6.2 billion, still is developing its spending plan for next year, which will depend on revenue from the state.

 Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said that the state has slashed funding for adult education and the district can no longer afford many of these programs for adults, even though they have tremendous value. The adult education division already has suffered substantial cuts in recent years.  That department could lose up to 261 positions.

Others affected could include 104 elementary school teachers, 63 psychiatric social workers, 59 counselors, 41 math teachers, 29 foreign language teachers and 18 business instructors.

Administrators with teaching credentials, who include principals, also will receive the notices.

The board also approved sending layoff notices to mid-level and senior managers with expiring contracts.

Board members Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic, who are running for reelection, voted against the layoff letters. A third board member, Tamar Galatzan, who also is running for reelection, joined the majority in approving them.

Teachers union President Alex Caputo-Pearl challenged the need for layoffs, reciting a list of California school systems that have avoided them.

“It is not right or reasonable that they are occurring in LAUSD,” Caputo-Pearl said. Given the needs of students, “this doesn’t make sense.”

“Let’s turn this district around together--that’s what we’re interested in doing,” he said.

United Teachers Los Angeles has yet to settle on a new contract; its members have gone without a raise for eight years. The union is asking for a one-year increase of 8.5% as well as more staffing and class-size reduction, among other things.

The teachers union has more than 30,000 members.

Cortines has countered that the district must give teachers a raise but can’t afford the union's demands.

Officials on Tuesday said L.A. Unified's financial health has been weakened by sharply declining enrollment—substantially due to the growth of independently operated charter schools. At the same time, the district has been unwilling to cut programs, such as adult education, even after state funding was slashed or eliminated. Other factors include the increased cost of pensions and benefits and state mandates to create new programs, they said.

Twitter: @howardblume 

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