Districts News Roundup
More than 14,000 Employees in D.C. Schools Face Furlough
The Washington public-school district has notified more than 14,000 teachers and staff members that they will be furloughed for four days this spring as part of the district's effort to trim its $26-million budget deficit.
William H. Brown, interim superintendent of schools, announced the furloughs after Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon ordered most city agencies to draw up plans to help offset the city's $316-million deficit. The furloughs are expected to save the school system about $6 million.
Employees at all levels of the system will be furloughed April 4, which is during spring break; May 27, the Memorial Day holiday; June 14, the only school day listed; and June 19, which is after the school year ends.
William Simons, president of the Washington Teachers Union, said all unions representing city employees will coordinate efforts to fight the furloughs, particularly since two of the days are holidays.
"The unions agree that if the furlough has to come it should be on days when school is in normal operation," he said. "If school is already closed, there really isn't a furlough."
The board of the San Francisco Uni6fied School District has voted to send 1,350 preliminary layoff notices to teachers and administrators, the first step in reducing the district's budget by $25 million.
Under the plan, developed in response to Gov. Pete Wilson's proposed budget, the district would actually lay off only about 584 certified teachers and 46.5 administrators. Bilingual, special-education, mathematics, and science teachers are exempt from the layoffs, but still must be notified under the law.
The Governor's proposed budget suspends Proposition 98, which guarantees that 40 percent of the state budget will go to schools.
The plan also calls for closing two high schools, moving nearly 1,700 children to other sites, reducing the number of instructional periods from 6 to 5 through the 10th grade, canceling electives and sports, and cutting back many other programs.
These "unconscionable cuts will destroy the school system as we know it," said JoAnne Miller, the board's president.
Joan Marie Shelley, president of the teachers' union, said her group will work together with parent and community groups to fight the proposal at the state and national levels as well as locally.
"It's not just teachers trying to hang on to their jobs and salaries," Ms. Shelley said. "It's a broad-based educational concern."
Business, education, labor, and community leaders in Los Angeles have launched a nonprofit alliance to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District to restructure and improve the quality of education in its schools.
The group, called the Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, or learn, will be headed by Mike Roos, a 13-year veteran of the state Assembly and its Speaker Pro Tem, who resigned to head the new group.
"Learn will develop and implement an action plan to set in motion and sustain restructuring plans already developed by educational groups," Robert E. Wycoff, president and chief executive officer of arco and a member of the group's working board, said.
The plan will address issues of curriculum, teaching, parental involvement, governance, preventive education, facilities management, adult literacy, school safety, and finance, officials said.
The group's organizers said it would not interfere with other reform efforts in the district.
"We were not formed to preempt or duplicate the efforts of the many fine organizations working in this field," Mr. Wycoff said. "Ours is a coming together of people and groups who think alike about the many key elements of school reform."
The group will operate a small staff, a 12-member working board, and an advisory group of trustees.
The working board includes corporate executives; Bill Anton, the superintendent of schools; Helen Bernstein, the president of the United Teachers of Los Angeles; Phillip Williams, vice president of the company that publishes the Los Angeles Times; and representatives of community groups.