Unionized Los Angeles Unified School District teachers will hold a one-day work stoppage on May 15 to protest planned layoffs and increases in class sizes that were approved by the school board in hopes of closing a massive budget deficit.
According to United Teachers Los Angeles, 26,815 teachers cast ballots on the proposed walkout, and 73.8 percent voted in favor.
"This wasn't an easy decision for our teachers to make, but we were pushed into it by a superintendent who has decided to raise class size and bring chaos to schools even though the district has the money to maintain class sizes and avoid these layoffs," UTLA President A.J. Duffy said. "We have to stand up for our students because the district won't. But it's not too late. We're calling on the superintendent and the school board to change course and make the right decision for our schools."
Union officials said they chose May 15 for the walkout to ensure the least conflict with standardized testing.
LAUSD spokeswoman Susan Cox said the district has no immediate response to the planned walkout.
The district's Board of Education voted April 14 to eliminate nearly 5,400 positions in hopes of resolving a nearly $600 million budget deficit for the coming school year. The exact number of layoffs was expected to be lower, depending on the number of employees opting for early retirement and the use of state and federal stimulus funds to maintain jobs.
Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he did not enjoy the prospect of laying off employees, but he said the size of the budget deficit made layoffs inevitable.
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"I want to remind us all how we got here," Cortines said during the board's April 14 meeting. "We have had for years declining enrollment, declining revenues and we have not checked the number of employees and programs that we have been adding, and it has finally caught up with us."
Board president Monica Garcia said this week she wanted to reduce the number of possible layoffs by slashing the board's budget and cutting her own salary. She said she wanted the district to make deeper cuts in its "central bureaucracy" and cap layoffs at each campus.