LOS ANGELES -- Facing a budget deficit that has ballooned to around $894 million, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Thursday that thousands of district employees could receive notices that they could lose their jobs.
"I will be recommending sending notification to a great many employees," the superintendent told the Board of Education. "And I want us not to confuse notification with losing a job. Notification is because funds have been cut. Notification is because we need to look at things differently. Notification is for reorganization. Notification is for living within our budget."
The district is required by law to send the notices to employees before actual layoffs are made. Cortines said the notifications do not ensure that people who receive them will actually lose their jobs.
The school board is expected to vote March 10 on whether to authorize Cortines to send the notices.
Cortines stressed that the first wave of possible cuts would be made outside the classroom.
He is recommending management and staff cuts throughout the district, along with a 30 percent cut at the district's headquarters and 50 percent cuts at local district headquarters. He also wants to reduce maintenance, custodial and transportation services, along with some educational programs.
"Teaching and learning happen in the classrooms and we are doing everything we can to minimize the impact of these cuts on classrooms, but the severity of the current situation requires us to look at everything," Cortines said. "As we right-size and restructure this district, we will continue to give priority to our schools and provide students with the instruction they need to continue making progress."
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The school board voted in January to authorize Cortines to send layoff notices to as many as 2,290 nonpermanent teachers with the least seniority. But Cortines said a week later that he would not be making any mid-year job cuts.
But if the district's budget discussions over the next four months do not close the budget deficit, thousands of people could receive pink slips in July.
Officials with the teachers' union, United Teachers Los Angeles, have blasted the district for any possible cuts among the teaching ranks, saying the district should cut administrative and bureaucratic fat out of the budget before firing teachers or making reductions that would impact the classroom.
Meanwhile, contract talks between UTLA and the district are continuing. The union's membership is expected to cast ballots in a strike-authorization vote March 20-25.