Los Angeles, CA — The Los Angeles Unified School District Board (LAUSD) Tuesday voted 4-3 to approve a 2009-2010 budget that calls for the elimination of more than 6,800 people, and the new spending plan will go into effect beginning July 1, 2009.

The cuts are part of an effort to close a budget shortfall of more than $590 million.

At the same time the board approved the cuts, members also voted to rescind lay-off notices given to nearly 2,000 elementary school teachers. Superintendent Ray Cortines said earlier this week that many of these jobs are being saved by the federal stimulus funds and a District requirement that the lowest performing schools buy back the teaching slots lost to budget cuts.

The cuts include 3,477 non-permanent teachers, and these are individuals who do not have enough experience (at least three years); and who do not have the course work and training to obtain a “clear” teaching credential. This also includes educators who came into the district on preliminary credentials but have failed to complete the required course work to become permanent.

Now that the decision has been finally made on the budget cuts, schools must meet with parent advisory and school site councils to determine priorities and then submit a budget to district headquarters by May 15.

What also softened the blow a bit was the fact that last week the state department of education received a little in excess of $1 million to dole out to local education agencies (LEA) for Title I schools and Special Education programs in the various districts as part of an initial infusion of stimulus dollars.

According to State Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell, this is 50% of the money the state can expect to get for these programs, and pending approval by the state legislature and the submission of an application for the funds by the governor to the Federal Department of Education, the funds should be in the hands of school districts beginning in May.

The LAUSD, which was set to vote on a package of cuts during a March 31 meeting, postponed making a final decision on a joint motion introduced by board members Marguerite LaMotte and Julie Korenstein that in part asked the board of education to hold off making cuts until the Governor provides his May revision, and the district meets with its stakeholders and bargaining units in order to find additional savings.

When all of the details are finalized, including the board voting to accept the federal stimulus funds, local schools could receive the funding that will help forestall some of the projected cuts for the 2009-10 school year.

For example, Cienega Elementary, which is a Title I school at which 92% of students are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program, could receive a one-time allocation of $594,828. At Audubon, 74% of pupils are Title I eligible, which means this middle school could receive $981,708.

The amounts are based on a formula Superintendent Cortines and his staff created that allocates $806 per student to all schools that have 65-100% of students Title I eligible.

Campuses with 40-64.9% of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunch would receive $551 per student.

In addition, all schools would receive Title II funding of $195 for each fourth, fifth and sixth grader and $30 for each ninth to 12th grader.

These funds are in addition to current Title I funds, and cannot be used to supplant money already in place, stressed Superintendent O’Connell. He added that the funding must also be used under the already existing Title I guidelines and regulations.

The LAUSD is suggesting that schools can use this money to purchase back teachers for class size reductions, counselors (including former Diploma Project Advisors); library aides; coach services and other supplemental services and materials.

The Los Angeles Unified School district is slated to receive more than $359 million in Title I Grant money.

The difficulty with making such cuts in a school district that is struggling to improve its academic performance was pointed out in a new report by the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA) released Monday.

IDEA believes the cuts could have a profound impact on schools serving primarily low-income students and pupils of color because they have a higher percentage of first and second year teachers than schools which do not serve poorer and minority pupils. Once all the seniority bumping is completed, these are the instructors most likely to be out of jobs.

In “Sharing the Burden? The Impact of Proposed Teacher Layoffs Across LAUSD, researchers noted that 46% of middle schools serving 75% or more low-income students employ a high proportion of new teachers, and 40% of LAUSD high schools serving 90% or more students of color employ a high proportion of new teachers.

A look at schools in the local community present stark examples of the report’s findings.

During the 2007-08 school year, Audubon (16), Bret Hart (17), Charles Drew (41), Henry Clay (21), Johnnie Cochran (23) and Horace Mann (17) each had a significant number of first and second-year teachers, and they are the ones who are more likely to take the brunt of lay-outs, if the typical seniority system is used.

According to the UCLA-IDEA report, “the uneven distribution of the proposed layoffs suggest that the budget cut may do more harm to schools with the greatest needs. Many schools serving low-income communities of color have worked hard to recruit and develop new teachers with the skills and commitment to be successful in these communities.

“The dismissal of large numbers of teachers in these schools will disrupt ongoing reform efforts and instructional programs, and might have a long-term impact on the school’s ability to attract (and retain) new teachers.”

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, former LAUSD teacher and board member Jackie Goldberg said that when she voted for massive budget cuts in 1990s, the District had one of the best music programs in the country. It never came back, added the former state legislator.