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Anton Proposes 7 Percent Salary Cut for L.A. Employees

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To combat an estimated $341-million budget shortfall, William R. Anton, superintendent of schools in Los Angeles, last week released a lengthy list of suggested savings that includes a one-year, 7 percent salary reduction for all employees.

Mr. Anton also announced a plan to restructure the district's central office by eliminating 155 positions and shifting the administration of some programs to management teams that will work with clusters of schools.

The reorganization, which will take effect July 1, was proposed primarily to improve accountability and communication in the district, according to the superintendent. Critics have long maintained that the Los Angeles central office is too top-heavy and autocratic.

The administrative reshuffling also is expected to save the district $10 million next school year.

At the same time, Mr. Anton said he would voluntarily take a 10 percent pay cut from the $161,390 he earned this year to "share the pain" that the budget reductions will in4flict on the district.

Under the terms of his contract, Mr. Anton, who has been superintendent in Los Angeles for 10 months, has full authority over personnel matters in the school district. The reorganization plan, therefore, did not require the formal approval of the school board.

Mr. Anton's salary gesture, which was echoed by identical pledges by the district's second-highest-ranking administrator and by its top lawyer, was widely regarded as sending a message for upcoming negotiations with the district's unions, including United Teachers of Los Angeles. The teachers' contract expires July 1.

Helen Bernstein, president of u.t.l.a., said she had "no problem" with Mr. Anton's self-imposed salary reduction but that teachers would not follow suit.

"When I make $160,000," she said, "I'll be happy to give back 10 percent."

'Shopping List' Criticized

The union was highly critical of what it called the superintendent's "shopping list" of suggested budget cuts for the school board to consider.

Although the district, which has a current budget of about $3.9 billion, is facing a $341-million deficit, Mr. Anton recommended cuts that total nearly $630 million.

The superintendent said the wide range of choices, sorted by priority, was offered to give school-boardmembers flexibility as they struggle to close the budget gap by early September.

As the first cuts to be considered, Mr. Anton recommended reducing the salaries of district employees by 7 percent for one year, freezing all "step advancements" on the salary schedule for teachers for 1991-92, cutting four days of vacation for the district's executive staff, and furel15lloughing all employees for either three or five days.

Ms. Bernstein called the salary proposals "givebacks," adding: "As far as I'm concerned, u.t.l.a. will never accept any proposal that has to do with a giveback. We went on strike to get what we got, and we're not about to give it back."

She estimated that the salary reduction, five-day furlough, and salary-schedule freeze would amount to pay cuts of between 19 percent and 24 percent for teachers.

Other suggested budget cuts that would take away elementary teachers' preparation time, force high-school teachers to teach an additional period each day, and increase class size would add between 10 percent and 20 percent to teachers' workloads, she added.

"I guarantee that teachers in Los Angeles will not labor under those conditions," Ms. Bernstein said.

The union president complained that the superintendent did not have to propose such a sweeping list of budget cuts and said suggestions made by the teachers' union were not incorporated into his plans.

"We're incredibly demoralized4right on the cusp of trying to make restructuring and reform changes," Ms. Bernstein said. "That's the part that's a heartbreaker."

The unprecedented financial problems, which forced the school board to cut $220 million from this school year's budget and to make an additional $88 million cutback at mid-year, have forced the district to notify 2,173 teachers, psychologists, nurses, librarians, and counselors that they might lose their jobs.

An additional 2,000 employees have been notified that they might be ''bumped" from their jobs by more senior employees if the layoffs take place.

The restructuring plan calls for elementary schools to be separated from junior-high schools and organized into seven districts. A new administrative unit will be created to oversee middle- and junior-high schools. Six-member management teams will work with clusters of 15 to 24 schools.

The next phase of restructuring is scheduled to take place in 1992-93 and will focus on school-level reorganization and would complement the school-based management process under way in the district. In that phase, money will be allocated directly to each school to be spent as the school sees fit.

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