LOS ANGELES — In the face of a nearly $160 million budget deficit, the Los Angeles Unified School District board authorized layoff warning notices March 10 for 609 employees, including teachers, counselors and social workers.
Included on the proposed list of those who will receive notices are more than 260 adult education teachers, 59 counselors, dozens of foreign-language teachers and 63 psychiatric social workers.
The board also authorized notices to “certificated administrators, confidential employees and supervisory employees,” along with “all certificated and classified contract management employees with expiring contracts.”
State law requires the district to send warning notices to employees by March 15 that they may be laid off or reassigned. Receiving such a notice does not necessarily mean the employee will actually be laid off. The final number will be determined as budget discussions continue.
“Failure to appropriately notify certificated administrators, confidential employees, supervisory employees, certificated and classified contract management employees in accordance with Education Code provisions and laws, may require the district to continue paying these employees’ salaries and benefits at their current rate and classifications,” a district staff report said. “Additionally, the district would be limited in its ability to implement layoff proceedings as required due to budgetary uncertainties.”
As they cast their votes on the issue, some board members said they were reluctantly voting in support, but hoped the district would be able to rescind most or all of the notices.
The district is facing a roughly $158.3 million deficit heading into the 2015-16 school year, according to a staff report.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines has been warning that layoffs are possible in the district, which is in the midst of contract talks with the teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles.
UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl blasted the layoff notices, saying he believes there is funding available to prevent them. He said union officials have been reviewing district documents, and, “We’ve found the line more than once in district memos that money is unaccounted for and can’t be accounted for. That’s unacceptable.
“Out of nowhere we seem to find money, tens of millions of dollars, to take care of the MISIS crisis and the MISIS fix-up, and now the superintendent’s report … says that more money needs to be put away and not spent on classrooms in case MISIS is in fact going to cost us more,” he said, referencing the district’s troubled My Integrated Student Information System computerized scheduling system.
UTLA has been pushing for a roughly 8.5 percent salary increase for teachers, but the district has offered 5 percent. The union declared an impasse in negotiations last month.
Caputo-Pearl has said the district is using a layoff threat as a “scare tactic.”
Cortines warned the board that the district cannot continue to rely on one-time funding to resolve ongoing financial issues.
“If you continue this, you will be another Detroit,” Cortines said.
“And that’s not that many years away if we do not stop the one-time funding. Unless we have ongoing funds, even though they are for wonderful programs, we can’t do it.”