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The Ax Falls Heavily at the LAUSD, Thousands of Jobs Lost
The LAUSD Board discussing layoffs during their March 31st meeting
It was as close to a split as a panel of 7 can get: In a 4-3 vote, the LAUSD Board of Education voted late yesterday afternoon to approve layoffs that will affect thousands of teachers and other district staff. Despite a two-week stall to hold talks between Board members, bargaining units, teachers, parents, and even the Mayor, about alternatives to layoffs, and despite weeks of protests organized by the UTLA, during their regular weekly meeting the Board faced the task of voting on the proposal which will now send many employees to the unemployment office. Joining Board President Monica Garcia in voting to approve the layoffs were Vice President Yolie Flores Aguilar, Marlene Canter, and Richard Vladovic, while Julie Korenstein, Tamar Galatzan, and Marguerite LaMotte voted no.
During the meeting, the UTLA sent Twitter updates regarding the heartfelt speakers who took the microphone to have their thoughts heard by the Board, and about the many people gathered outside once again in protest. Following the vote, the mood shifted to funereal, according to an LAUSD employee attending the meeting who spoke with LAist. On the heels of the vote came the launch of Mayor Villaraigosa's Save LA Teachers website (with a post oddly published earlier than its 7:27 p.m. timestamp referencing the encouraging news that almost 2,000 elementary teachers will get to keep their jobs) aimed at demonstrating ways the LAUSD can save jobs by engaging in other reductions; with the vote approving the layoffs on the record, to what extent this site can and will help is not clear.
In response to the layoffs, Superintendent Ramon Cortines "said he would continue to look for more money and savings to keep some of the jobs," but UTLA President A.J. Duffy is far less optimistic: "Clearly, it's about getting rid of employees, teachers and staff," he said. As federal stimulus funds arrive at the LAUSD, the application of the money will hopefully be scrutinized; while it should go to saving the jobs ostensibly lost yesterday, it may well already be set aside elsewhere to be used as the Board sees fit. Unfortunately, we have a shaky precedent: California ranks consistently in the high 40s out of the 50 states when it comes to education spending.