Protesters Shut Down LAUSD Board Meeting After Abysmal Financial Report

After hearing a harrowing financial report from LAUSD’s chief financial officer, UTLA-aligned protesters shut down the LAUSD Board meeting early Tuesday, preventing the Board from considering two resolutions to help increase revenue and state funding for education.

UTLA’s build-up to a teachers strike may prove counter-productive. The union’s strategy to claim the district is hiding or hoarding money might prevent the state from providing LAUSD with the very funding increase we all need.

After all, why would the state provide more funding if LAUSD were flush with cash, as UTLA claims?

Parents, who are tired of being caught in the middle of all this noisy labor unrest, are looking forward to the report from the neutral fact finder, which will be given to LAUSD and UTLA by this Friday. The district then has two weeks to make the report public.  

LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Scott Price outlined the details of LAUSD’s fiscal stabilization plan at Tuesday’s meeting, which the county required in order to address the district’s “qualified” budget rating. Without cuts or more revenue, LAUSD will dip below its required 1 percent reserve within a couple years, and it will fall $500 million in the hole by the 2022-23 school year.

In order to satisfy county overseers, who have threatened to rescind Board authority if LAUSD doesn’t shape up, 283 jobs in 175 different categories are expected to be cut, for a total of $35.5 million a year in savings. The least senior teachers are likely to be the ones who lose their jobs first. That’s because many central office administrators have a right to return to the classroom and bump teachers out of their jobs when their administrative positions are eliminated.

Among the jobs the division heads proposed would be cut as part of the 15 percent reduction are: LAUSD’s chief of police, the executive director of special education, five parent educator coaches and the senior executive director of the arts education program.  

Parents are all for cutting pricey bureaucrats, but the chief of police? That sounds like a fairly important position. Should parents start worrying that things are so bad financially that student safety will be compromised?

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Price went into excruciating detail at Tuesday’s Board meeting to describe exactly what LAUSD’s much-debated reserve is being used for over the next two years. Much of it has already been committed to employee raises as part of labor negotiations. Some of it is carry-over funds taken directly from unused funds that principals did not spend in their school budgets. Much of the rest is just being used to keep the district afloat and cover a $500 million annual budget deficit (meaning LAUSD spends more every year than it receives in revenue).

The fact is, money is being taken from schools to keep the district going, and massive layoffs are coming. As Board member Scott Schmerelson (BD3) noted Tuesday: “That’s going to cause a big mess.”

We could not agree more. This is a big mess, and the only way out of it is for parents, teachers and the district to all work together to push for more state funding. Fighting one another won’t help and may just be the death of the district as we know it. We all need to be marching on Sacramento instead.