Published Online: March 3, 2010

Up to 5,200 L.A. Schools Workers Could Face Layoffs

The Los Angeles Unified School District's board voted Tuesday to send notices of possible layoffs to nearly 5,200 teachers and other workers while urging union leaders to negotiate concessions that could make some of the cuts unnecessary.

The Board of Education members who spoke at the hearing stressed they were unanimously authorizing the notices to meet a state deadline and hoped many of the cuts to the nation's second-largest school district's work force could be avoided.

The state's education code requires school districts to notify teachers by March 15 if they may not have jobs the following school year.

"What we're voting on today can be reversed, can be mitigated, and we must do that," board member Richard Vladovic said.

The school board laid off more that 2,000 workers last year as part of a series of measures to address a persistent budget gap, which also included increasing class sizes and eliminating music and arts programs.

Board members voted last month to place a measure on the June ballot that would ask voters to temporarily boost homeowners' property taxes by $100 per parcel, providing the district about $95 million annually for four years.

Members on Tuesday discussed cutting the pay of its nearly 40,000 full-time workers and shortening the school year to help address a projected $640 million deficit for the 2010-11 school year.

"There is nothing else to do. We've done all we can to this point. What comes next is the bargaining, the conversation, the leadership that helps us get through this very, tough place," board president Monica Garcia said.

Gregg Solkovits, a vice president with United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents most of the district's teachers and other staff, said the union opposes layoffs, saying they would hurt students by increasing class sizes.

But he also said members were not necessarily prepared to accept pay cuts unless they could be convinced that the district had made all the reductions it could to its administrative budget.

"We have to be satisfied that every possible cut has been made away from the classroom before we can go to our membership and ask the membership to sacrifice more than they already have," he said.

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