Media contact: Marla Eby, UTLA Communications Director, 213-368-6247/213-305-9310 (cell)
Today the Los Angeles Unified School District announced plans to lay off over 5,000 elementary and secondary school teachers and support personnel including nurses, elementary and secondary school counselors, psychiatric social workers, pupil and attendance counselors, and school psychologists.
UTLA President A.J. Duffy issued the following statement in response:
“Our schools are still reeling from the deep cuts in the past two years that led to larger class sizes and stressful, unclear employment status for thousands of dedicated, hard working educators. LAUSD is, once again, planning to lay off teachers, increase class sizes and cut the already insufficient number of support staff personnel available to assist our students. Cuts this deep will severely limit our ability to meet students’ most basic needs. Our students are cheated every time LAUSD increases class sizes, every time LAUSD takes music or art classes away, every time a librarian or nurse is eliminated or a counselor’s case load is raised.
This large number of proposed layoffs shows that LAUSD has clearly abandoned its all-too-frequent, and hollow, promise to “keep cuts away from the classroom”. UTLA demands that the School Board and the superintendent re-evaluate their budget and identify areas of waste and excess to cut. No pot of money or expenditure should be left unexamined. The District’s cuts to teachers and support staff year after year have taken their toll on both students and educators and will do permanent harm to students who deserve a world-class education.
The school funding problem begins at the state level. California already ranks near the bottom for spending on schools. You can’t fund a world-class education on a poverty-level budget. UTLA will join together with parents, students and the community and the labor movement to pass the June state-wide initiative to prevent school budget cuts.
That said, LAUSD’s budget problems also rise from their own errant spending decisions over past years. In these times of greatly reduced resources, this School Board has the responsibility to parents and students to make funding decisions that prioritize the classroom (for example, reducing the number of layoffs rather than giving Superintendent-elect Deasy an $80,000 raise over outgoing Supt. Cortines’ salary).
UTLA recognizes the severity of the education budget crisis and will negotiate with LAUSD on options to save jobs and offset the damage to student learning, but we will not stand by and allow our students’ educational program to be dismantled. UTLA members stand united to fight all layoffs and to defend our students’ learning environment.”