Tough times at LAUSD headquarters this week, as the need to slash millions of dollars from the district's budget increases. The nation's second largest school district faces a $375 million deficit in the 2008-09 budget and now the governor wants to cut even more from the state education budget mid-year.
Senior Deputy Superintendent Ramon Cortines is going through the district's budget with a fine-toothed comb, looking at every program, department, school and office. Cortines believes the district is facing tough financial times not only because of the current economic crisis, but also because enrollment has been declining over the past few years, but spending has not. He says over the past 5 years, "improper and too many hires" were made, leading to a duplication of jobs.
Cortines is expected to recommend drastic cuts in order to keep the district afloat. The cuts are expected to be as unpopular with the board as the superintendent is with the editors of the Los Angeles Times. An editorial in Thursday's newspaper called for the L.A. school board to remove Superintendent David Brewer from the job he's had for two years. The newspaper claims Brewer doesn't have what it takes to lead the district through the financial hardships it faces. The opinion piece also questions why Cortines was hired on earlier this year in a role which appears to take on many of the superintendent's duties, while Brewer remains on the job.