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The budget proposal LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy will present to the school board tomorrow has won lukewarm responses from three of the district’s biggest labor partners — the teachers union (UTLA), the principals union (AALA) and the support workers union (SEIU Local 99).
After reviewing documents the district released on Friday, each group expressed cautious optimism that Deasy’s fiscal vision for the next three years — boosted by new money from the state — is heading in the right direction but with more that needs to be done.
In short, because the proposal includes new hires and at least a suggestion of raises for current employees, the unions viewed the proposal as potentially good news for their members.
“Superintendent John Deasy’s proposed 2014-2015 budget does not go far enough to help the District’s students or educators, but it is a start,” UTLA said in a statement that seemed to capture the consensus response.
The Associated Administrators of Los Angeles, which represents principals and other school administrators, said, “Based on the limited information AALA has to date, it appears the superintendent will bring budget recommendations to the board that will begin to restore services and personnel which are in support of schools and students which were markedly reduced and eliminated over the last six years.” And the SEIU Local 99 said, “While we are encouraged by the District’s strong investment in serving students with special needs, we urge Board Members to build standards in the LCAP to ensure that all students can learn in a clean, safe, healthy and supportive environment.”
LCAP stands for Local Control and Accountability Plan, which every district is developing to account for the new state money.
Alex Caputo-Pearl, who is facing UTLA President Warren Fletcher in a runoff election for union president this month, echoed the moderate tone of his union’s response and called attention to greater needs, saying, “As we urgently try to address the social and emotional needs of our students, prevent drop-out, and prepare students for college in an era of ever-more-restricted college access, LAUSD remains profoundly below the national average in counselors, nurses, librarians, and social workers per student.”
Deasy’s formal presentation of the budget to the six board members tomorrow kicks off a 10-week period in which lobbying, debate and compromise will shape the district’s $6.8 billion budget. It includes an extra $332 million that state requires be spent on helping children from low-income families, foster youth and English learners.
While the budget proposal includes hiring 1,210 new employees — and 3,417 over the next three years — it allows for pay raises but omits any specific numbers, largely because that’s a matter for contract negotiations between the district and its unions.
The UTLA statement took note of that, saying, “What is conspicuously missing is any significant reduction in class sizes across the District. And, this budget does not include any proposed salary increases for employees who have not had a raise in 7 years.”
Caputo-Pearl said the absence of a specific pay raises was “a dramatic blow to retaining excellent educators and stabilizing schools, and to the idea of fairness and equity.”
The budget is the biggest item on tomorrow’s agenda, and a debate among board members is likely to continue until June 17, the deadline for a final LCAP and budget.
Complicating the process is the very real possibility that the debate will play out without an equal voice from District 1. If no candidate wins a majority in the June 3 special election, a winner will not be declared until after an Aug. 12 runoff.
District 1 has a non-voting advisory representative sitting with the board, Sylvia Rousseau, and her input will carry weight in deliberations. But she cannot vote.
Besides the budget, the board has the usual long list of items to consider tomorrow, including a possible vote on a resolution from Steve Zimmer, calling for a non-voting student voice to the board by mid-2015, as part of a wider effort to get input from students on matters before the board.