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L.A. Unified School District Tries to Balance the Books

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The L.A. Unified School District has put off til later in April some tough cutback decisions driven by both local and state money problems. But more fiscal difficulties loom.

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The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday:

Los Angeles Unified School District officials Tuesday approved $140.6 million in budget cuts, but postponed a more difficult decision that could have cost thousands of jobs....The one that passed without dissent balances the books for L.A. Unified's current school year, in part by using new legal flexibility to transfer money originally set aside for other purposes...

Facing a reluctant school board, [Supervisor Ramon] Cortines offered more time to explore alternative solutions, which probably would mean unpaid days off or outright pay cuts, he said. Such measures would require concessions from employee unions. Some unions are ready to discuss furloughs to save jobs, but not the teachers union... ["L.A. Unified Cuts $140.6 Million From Budget," L.A. Times]

The Daily News has a photo gallery of yesterday's LA USD meeting.

These ongoing financial troubles are just more bad news for a school district--the country's second largest--that's seen plenty in the past couple of years. Graduation rates have been declining; and a 2007 consulting firm analysis found, according to an L.A. Times account,

an operation beset by an almost complete lack of accountability or consequences for poor performance, running from the most senior staff to school principals. Job descriptions are often unclear and evaluations rarely pegged to improved district performance, while communication among various corners of the organization is muddled or nonexistent.

Such problems led the Daily News in a March editorial to declare, regarding recent administrative and teaching scandals in Grenada Hills and Woodland Hills schools, that "Not only have LAUSD schools failed at educating; they are now contributing to the delinquency of their charges."

For more background on this week's School District actions, it's still worth checking out last month's Daily News reporting on the LA USD's first sending out notices to up to 9,000 employees that layoffs might be on the horizon--and on the protests it engendered. And after this week's meeting and the delay of final budget decisions, those layoffs still loom.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

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