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Published in Print: March 22, 2000, as Cortines' Plan for L.A. Would Cut or Restructure 800 Jobs

Cortines' Plan for L.A. Would Cut or Restructure 800 Jobs

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Ramon C. Cortines, the interim superintendent of the Los Angeles schools, wants to cut or restructure more than 800 administrative jobs in hopes of giving greater decisionmaking authority to schools and preparing the vast district for a new leader.

He revealed last week the details of his plan to reconfigure the central administration of the 700,000-student district, a plan he first announced in February. It would affect about 40 percent of the administrative positions in the nation's second-largest district.

Mr. Cortines told school board members March 14 that 800 jobs would eliminated or restructured, and 470 positions added, for an overall reduction of about 330 jobs.

Many positions that survive the cuts would be moved to one of 11 new "local district" offices, each to be managed by a yet-to-be-hired superintendent who would have the power to make most financial and academic decisions. The changes could save $46.1 million in the district's annual budget of about $7.5 billion, Mr. Cortines said.

The difference between his new plan and other subdistrict plans recommended in the past, he said, is the direct management structure in which the district's top administrator would leave many decisions and services to the 11 local superintendents, who would work directly with principals at individual schools.

"It is my hope that, instead of jumping through hoops ... you can solve the problems and issues on the spot," Mr. Cortines said in an interview last week.

Working on the Edge

Details of the plan brought excitement and worry last week to veteran employees at the district's headquarters.

Judy Ivie Burton, the assistant superintendent of school reform, said the plan would dissolve her department, cutting some jobs and splitting others into district and local offices. Ms. Burton, a former teacher and principal, said her job would be eliminated, but added that she planned to apply for a new position as associate superintendent or for one of the 11 local superintendent jobs.

She said she hoped the plan would give the district its first well-organized staff-development program, enable a strong focus on Mr. Cortines' main academic goal of improving reading districtwide, and restore public confidence in the sluggish system.

In the interview, Mr. Cortines said he still intended to leave his interim post in June and would not apply for the permanent job. He added that he hoped the school board would approve his reorganization plan, which he said would create a system in which a different type of leader could flourish once he leaves.

"This school district has a great deal of potential," he said, "and if the board approves [the plan], I believe there's hope for settling the system down."

Vol. 19, Issue 28, Page 3

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