Friday, January 23, 2009

Superintendent Cortines announces that there will be no mid-year teacher layoffs

Superintendent Cortines issued the following press release today announcing that there will be no mid-year teacher layoffs:

Superintendent Cortines Announces No Mid-Year Teacher Layoffs

Even after the Governor’s plea to solve the budget crisis during his State of the State Address last week, the State has not made progress in finalizing its budget for the remainder of this year. Unlike our elected officials in Sacramento, we do not have the luxury of halting our decisions without suffering dire consequences. Our fiscal timeline requires that our decisions match our instructional calendar, especially for those of our schools that have started the second semester and schools that are about to start the second semester in February. Additionally, to date, over 2,000 certificated employees have indicated their interest in early retirement by participating in the District survey. A decision to offer the early retirement incentive will be made in the near future. Furthermore, all classified employees who are eligible for early retirement will be surveyed during the first week of February.

It is our responsibility to make the best decisions for our students based on the information that is available to us. Due to the lack of clear information from Sacramento, the need for stability at schools in the second semester, and the high level of interest in a retirement incentive program, there will be no mid-year teacher layoffs. Based on these factors, I do not feel that it would be appropriate to negatively impact our students and teachers without definitive information from the State.

Last week, the Los Angeles Board of Education granted me the authority to do mid-year teacher layoffs as a precautionary measure for a State budget scenario with no flexibility provided to school districts. Since we have not received any additional information from the State, we feel that we must make our decisions based on the Governor’s latest proposal that has included more flexibility for school districts to deal with these difficult economic hardships. Based on this anticipated flexibility, we can avoid teacher layoffs and still meet our financial obligations for this school year. To be clear, we will still need to make extremely difficult cuts, but at least we can ensure that the critical connection between our teachers and students will not be disrupted this school year.

As I have mentioned in the past, we will continue to be prudent and balance our budget to ensure we meet our financial obligations for next year as well. This will require us to fundamentally change the way we operate. If the State’s budget proposals remain the same, we will only be able to provide basic core services to our schools. Many important programs and services that we have had in the past will no longer be offered. To guide us in our difficult decision making, we will have a plan to present to the Board of Education and community by the end of February 2009. I want to be clear that this plan will not be comfortable and will result in layoffs at every level of the District in July. Once again, I want to clearly communicate that the priority for cuts will be on central offices, and local districts and finally, the schools.

I will continue to keep you updated on our financial condition as new information becomes available and I welcome your continued comments as we head down this difficult path together. We will all need to work together to reach out to our state representatives to communicate the need for a State budget that reflects the importance of education and services to our children and their families.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Debate with Candidates to Fill the Board District 4 Seat

On March 3, you will have the opportunity to elect a new board member to represent your child’s school. Please come and hear the candidates speak about their priorities and their ideas for improving your child’s school.

School Board Member Marlene Canter
and The League of Women Voters of Los Angeles

with LAUSD District 4 School Board Candidates:

Mike Stryer
Teacher, Fairfax High School


Steve Zimmer
Teacher, Marshall High School


February 9, 2009
Woodland Hills Academy
20800 Burbank Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
7:00 – 8:30 pm

February 11, 2009
University High School
11800 Texas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90025
7:00 – 8:30 pm

This meeting is neither sponsored by nor is it in anyway connected with the
Los Angeles Unified School District.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Budget Update

At yesterday’s Board Meeting, Superintendent Ray Cortines and Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly provided the Board and the public with a budget update. Because of the State’s deteriorating fiscal condition, Superintendent Cortines and Ms. Reilly anticipate that the District will have to cut at least $250 million for the current school year. This is on top of $427 million the District has already cut from this year’s budget.

Unfortunately, we have very little clear information about what the impact of the State’s budget deficit will be on LAUSD. There have been five different proposals from the Governor, State Legislature and the independent Legislative Analyst Office attempting to close the State budget deficit. But, there has been no agreement. As the State continues to deliberate, the deficit continues to grow and our options to address any mid-year cuts driven by the State become fewer.

Because we do not have a clear picture from Sacramento the District has instituted spending and hiring freezes, and, yesterday, the Board voted to give the Superintendent the authority to send mid-year layoff notices to non-permanent teachers should the state budget crisis become so severe that this action would be necessary. I want to be clear that even though the Board voted to give this authority, the Superintendent will come back to the Board before enacting a mid-year layoff to share with the Board and public his plan for responding to the mid-year budget cuts we will have to make.

I’ve heard from many of you about the lack of logic in laying off our newest teachers. I agree. It is illogical to layoff non-permanent teachers at mid-year. It’s a blanket move that discounts other important factors like performance, the cohesion of a school site team, and the impact on students. But, as I said, with each day of delay, our options are more and more limited, and this action may be one of the few options – given legal and contractual obligations – available to LAUSD should the state budget crisis become so severe that we have to reduce the number of people we employ in the middle of the school year.

The bottom line right now is that no one is receiving layoff notices. We simply do not have enough information about what the State budget crisis will require of us. Superintendent Cortines will come back to the Board once we have more complete budget information from the State and he will share his plan, which will include above all, a focus on streamlining central and local district offices and reducing administrative and non-school positions.

In the meantime, please consider contacting your state representatives to let them know how they can help your child and your school by passing a budget that is fair to education. You can find your local legislator by going to

For more info on the budget, watch "Superintendent Cortines: On the Record" featuring LAUSD Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines, Chief Operating Officer David Holmquist, and Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly. The three will discuss and examine the LAUSD budget outlook and the potential cuts that face LAUSD in the next few years.

The special report will air on KLCS on the following dates and times:
Wednesday, Jan 14 at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan 15 at 4:30 p.m.
Friday, Jan 16 at 6:30 a.m.
Sunday, Jan 18 at 8 a.m.
Tuesday, Jan 20 at 10 a.m.
Thursday, Jan 22 at 10 a.m.

Venice High School Pool Update

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks recently announced that the Venice High School pool will soon reopen. The pool is maintained and operated by the City of Los Angeles under a joint-use agreement with LAUSD.

Staff has been hard at work over the past few months repairing the facility. Currently lifeguards are brushing and vacuuming the pool, the water temperature is rising, and keys are being provided to the lifeguard on duty.

The pool will be ready to reopen on Monday, January 19, 2009.

Thank you to all the community members who have contacted my office to express how much this facility means to them, their children, and the Venice community.

New LAUSD Report Card to Measure Schools’ Success, Progress and Areas for Improvement

This week, LAUSD parents and guardians began receiving a new kind of report card in the mail - a school-level report card on the performance of their children's schools.

The Report Card is meant to be a public, easy to read, annual summary of school performance that goes beyond test scores and emphasizes both performance and progress. Many of the measures on the report card have long been available, but never in one place.

The Report Card measures include:

  • School graduation rate

  • Completion of required college-ready courses, such as the A-G course sequence required by the Cal State and University of California systems

  • Progress of English learner students becoming fluent in English

  • Percentage of students proficient and improving on California Standards Tests

  • Student and staff attendance

Future versions of the report card will include measures of students' and staff’s feelings about their safety on campus and student and parent satisfaction with their school.

We are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and the California Community Foundation for funding the Report Card effort. Their contribution helps the District to deliver on its promise to provide transparency about school performance. This transparency is an important step towards joint accountability for student outcomes and achievement that includes the Central District, Local Districts, school administrators, teachers, parents, students and the community.

To access the Report Card online go to There you will also find instructional videos on how to use the Report Card. The Report Card is a living document that will be adapted over time to improve its usefulness. If you have suggestions for improvement please let us know. And, if you have questions about the measures on the Report Card please don’t hesitate to contact us.