Look no farther than California for an American version of Greece. The state is so poor that the Los Angeles Unified School District and the teachers’ union have tentatively agreed to give teachers 10 furlough days next year, which would drop the number of school days from the present 180 days down to 175. This austerity measure would cut pay for the teachers for five days plus losing compensation for four holidays and one training day, which adds up to a 5% pay cut.
L.A. Schools Superintendent John Deasy, whistling in the dark, said, “This agreement will enable many of our valued employees to remain in the classroom next year.”
But if the agreement holds, it will still be subject to results in the November election because there are two funding initiatives on the ballot, one of them backed by Gov. Jerry Brown. If the funding initiatives pass, there will be enough money in the state’s till to put the furloughed days back on the teachers’ schedules; if they fail, Deasy said, three more weeks of school may have to be jettisoned.
Even if the tentative agreement is passed, there is still bad news for teachers: although projections had been that more than 9,000 teachers would have been fired otherwise, enrollment has dropped so drastically that more than 1,300 teachers are still likely to lose their jobs.
The budget gap for the LAUSD has been estimated at $390 million, but teachers’ union leaders, as to be expected, said that the math was wrong, and the district should have made cuts in other areas, even though the district reduced funding its television station and cut its regional offices in half.
The LAUSD has been in trouble for years; in 2008, the district had a $427-million deficit; in 2009, it was $838 million; in 2010, $620 million; in 2011, $408 million. In those four years nearly 8,000 employees lost their jobs.