Taxpayer Group Won't Challenge School Pact Again


The last obstacle to final Los Angeles school board ratification of the teachers contract vanished Friday when a taxpayers group said it will not go to court again to block approval.

Joel Fox, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said that after interviews under oath with two top officials who are involved in the district's finances, the group is convinced that the school system will not go bankrupt if the contract is adopted.

With the school board set to approve the contract Monday, the threat of a May 7 teachers strike has all but ended. United Teachers-Los Angeles members voted overwhelmingly this week to strike if the board does not approve the contract on schedule.

The taxpayer group won a temporary court order that blocked final approval of the contract on the grounds that the state Constitution prohibits school districts from spending more money than they have. It dropped the suit after the district received a last-minute infusion of $31.5 million from the state.

However, the group reserved the right to revive its objections until depositions were taken from the two officials interviewed: district Budget Director Henry Jones and County Supt. of Schools Stuart Gothold.

Among other issues, the contract calls for reducing a 12% cumulative pay cut to 10%, which will cost the district $36 million.

Fox said that in the interviews, Jones and Gothold "proved our point; the district would have been belly up if we had not intervened. . . . The lawsuit forced state officials to produce the money promised to pay for the agreement."

Union President Helen Bernstein sharply criticized the Jarvis group's actions, saying it only served to prolong the anxiety and stress among teachers.

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