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Teachers, Lawmakers Rap Pay Raise for Los Angeles Administrators

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A salary package providing substantial raises for principals and administrators in Los Angeles has drawn the ire of teachers' union leaders and Democratic legislators.

Under the pay plan approved by the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District in June, principals and administrators earning less than $75,000 a year will receive a 24 percent salary increase over three years.

The pay plan, retroactive to July 1988, is identical to that approved for teachers, who staged a nine-day strike in May after contract negotiations broke down.

The district's highest-paid administrators, including Superintendent Leonard M. Britton, will receive raises totaling 16 percent over two years. Mr. Britton's annual salary will increase by $23,000, to $164,462.

Board members unanimously supported the pay increase for principals. But they approved salary increases for the top-paid administrators by a 4-to-3 vote. Roberta L. Weintraub, president of the board until this month, cast the swing vote in favor of the ranking officials.

A Blow to Credibility?

The decision prompted protests from both the United Teachers of Los Angeles, which negotiated the pay increase for teachers, and 12 Democratic assemblymen from the city.

"The people fighting us ended up getting the same raises," said Frances Haywood, vice president of utla She contended that the district told "flat-out lies" about how much money it had available for salaries.

In a letter signed by 11 other8members of the delegation, Assemblyman Dave Elder chastised the board for even considering raises for top administrators. The letter asked the board to delay the vote until Mark Slavkin, who was elected to the board in June with strong union support, took office this month.

Mr. Elder said the raises--which increased to 66 from 15 the number of administrators earning more than $100,000 annually--hurt the district's credibility with the public and the legislature and continued the pay gap between teachers and administrators.

"It reeks," said Mr. Elder.

Diana Munatones, district spokesman, said Ms. Weintraub responded to the criticism by noting that principals and administrators kept the district's 600 schools open and operating smoothly during the nine-day teachers' strike and that they deserved a pay increase.

No Surprise

Ms. Munatones said the raises for administrators should not have surprised anyone, especially union officials.

"The union was aware this was a possibility and it wasn't something we lied about," said Ms. Munatones.

Throughout the labor negotiations with teachers, she said, the district maintained that the salary increases would cost $500 million to $650 million over three years. Those estimates included wage hikes for administrators, she stated.

Originally, district officials said the salary increases for teachers would require $80 million in budget cuts from elsewhere in the school system. But a windfall of state funds brought about by Proposition 98 enabled the district to reduce its budget by only $50 million.

Proposition 98, approved by voters last year, earmarks nearly 40 percent of the state budget for public schools.

In other action, the board took steps to decide who should serve on a 24-member central committee designed to oversee the district's new school-based management program. The central committee, which was scheduled to be appointed by this week, will oversee similar councils at each school. Establishment of the councils was negotiated by the teachers as part of their contract demands.

Each school-board member will appoint a member of the central committee, while the union will select 12 and the superintendent will choose 5. Committee members appointed by the board must be either parents or community representatives, the school board decided.

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