SAN FRANCISCO — The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education agreed Tuesday to send out 5,200 layoff notices in the face of a $640 million budget deficit projected for the next fiscal year.
The notices are part of a wave of the letters going out to California teachers this month ahead of a mid-month legal deadline for notifying credentialed employees they may lose their jobs in the upcoming school year. School districts are preparing for a tough year under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed fiscal 2010-11 budget, which provides most of their funding.
Almost every district in the state is considering teacher layoffs and class-size increases that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. The San Francisco Unified School District sent out 900 layoff notices last month. The Long Beach Unified School District is sending 783, and the San Diego Unified School District plans to issue 300 notices.
“I know every board member is accepting this information with heavy, heavy hearts,” said LAUSD board president Monica Garcia. “We’re very, very concerned about the impact.”
The district’s projected 2010-11 deficit is almost a 10th of its current $6.8 billion general fund budget. In 2009-10, the district closed an $800 million budget gap in part by cutting the central office bureaucracy by 40%, laying off 2000 workers and using federal stimulus funds.
Cuts will hit the bureaucracy hard again this year, but they will hit even harder in the classroom. Schools superintendent Ramon Cortines recommended the layoffs of teachers, school nurses, janitors, and administrators — as well as increases in class size and a reduction in the length of the school year — to help close the gap.
“These aren’t recommendations I take lightly,” he told the board Tuesday afternoon. “These are my recommendations to keep this district solvent and to deal with the lack of revenue from Sacramento.”
Board members last month agreed to place a $92 million parcel tax measure on the June ballot to help close the deficit.
California teacher layoff notices tend to represent a worst-case scenario each year, as district administrators have to prepare for the next school year before the state’s budget is finalized. They give administrators room to make cuts next year, but don’t guarantee them.
The notices also serve as a warning to lawmakers that cutting funding has costs and to employees that they need to make concessions to keep their jobs. But administrators and school board members warn that significant layoffs are likely because of the state’s budget crisis and a drop in funding from the federal stimulus, which had allowed districts to rescind many layoff notices in the current fiscal year.