Los Angeles, CA — At the same time that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is making incremental steps to get out of its Program Improvement three status under the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines announced a package of personnel cuts, programmatic and organizational changes that some believe could impair the progress already made.

Cortines presented recommendations to the school board Tuesday to close a $140 million funding gap for the 2008-09 school year and a projected $596 million shortfall for the 2009-10 academic year.

Among the major suggestions are laying off an estimated 8,400 employees including about 4,700 teachers–specifically newer instructors, who have not become permanent district employees.
The superintendent and his staff are also recommending bumping up class sizes by two to four students at all grade levels; cutting staff at local district offices by 50% and in some cases moving these people from rented space into portables on school campuses or into empty offices at the district headquarters; cutting about 1,000 school-based janitors and cafeteria workers; increasing the student-counselor ratio to 1 to 150 at the secondary level because of the elimination of nearly 500 non-permanent counselors; reducing non-classroom support personnel in departments such as transportation, food services, building and ground workers and repair as well as in warehouse/procurement; and eliminating programs such as art and music instruction, physical education and efforts like the Diploma Project drop-out prevention program.

In addition, the district has sent out notices to more than 2,800 permanent administrators and managers some of who are expected to return to previous positions as principals and assistant principals.

Cortines called the recommendations “a work in progress” and said the district is still looking to secure additional funding as well as at other ways to save money.

The suggestions were presented for discussion on Tuesday, and are expected to be voted upon during a special March 31 school board meeting.