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School Chief, 2 Top Aides Still Haven’t Cut Pay : Budget crisis: They had promised to reduce salaries by 10% to ‘share the pain’ wrought by cuts. Anton says failure to reduce salary was an oversight. Others say they will implement reductions soon.

TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

Los Angeles School Supt. Bill Anton and two of his top aides have yet to make good on public pledges to cut their salaries by 10% and “share the pain” wrought by district budget cuts.

Anton on Thursday called the failure “an oversight” and ordered the district’s payroll department to begin immediate deductions to reduce his $161,390 annual salary by $16,139 this school year.

“It’s unfortunate . . . it was something I overlooked,” Anton said. “But I intended all along to take the cut and I’ve taken care of it now.”

At a press conference May 1, Anton announced that he would return 10% of his salary to the district to send a message that top administrators should “not be immune” from the effects of the district’s $271-million budget shortfall.

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Anton stopped short of urging others to take similar pay cuts, but the district’s deputy superintendent, Sid Thompson, and top attorney, Rich Mason, soon followed suit. Thompson said he would cut his $143,000 salary by more than $14,000 and Mason said he would return $13,000 of his $130,000 annual pay.

Both said Thursday they had not intended to begin payroll deductions immediately. They had planned to wait until the district finalized its budget--which will probably require across-the-board pay cuts for all employees--and then adjust their individual salary reductions to equal the promised 10% cuts.

“I haven’t stalled on taking a cut,” Thompson said. “I never said how I was going to take it, but at the end of the (1991-92) year, check my salary and you’ll see that it’s 10% less.”

Mason concurred. “I never intended to take 10% on top of whatever (pay cuts) the board might impose to balance the budget,” he said. If employees agree to the 3% cut district officials are seeking, Mason said he will take an additional 7%. “By the time this (school) year is over, I will have received 10% less.”

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All three men--along with about 100 other of the district’s highest paid administrators--saw their salaries cut last school year, when they were placed on five-day unpaid furloughs and denied the 8% raises given to all other district employees, Anton said.

Anton said he had intended to take his voluntary 10% cut immediately after making the promise, but neglected to instruct the payroll department to implement the reduction. His biweekly paychecks are deposited directly into his bank account by the district, he said, and he failed to make sure the $600 per-check deductions were being made.

Teachers union President Helen Bernstein said she is astounded by the failure of the three officials to take the cuts they promised.

“It amazes me that someone wouldn’t notice that their paycheck (should be) $1,200 less a month . . . unless you make so much that it’s just sort of meaningless,” she said.

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The district’s leaders are now trying to negotiate pay cuts with the teachers union, which represents more than 30,000 of the district’s 60,000 employees. Anton is asking every employee to accept a 3% pay cut to generate the $50 million needed to help the district balance its $4-billion budget.

Bernstein said the revelation that administrators have dragged their feet in taking the promised cuts will not affect those talks.


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