Teachers, School Workers and Parents Applaud Rep. Waters for Her Efforts to Prevent LAUSD Job Cuts
Teachers and other school workers as well as parents of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) thanked Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-35) for her leadership in efforts to prevent job cuts proposed in the district's budget for next year. Congresswoman Waters initiated a letter to members of the LAUSD Board of Education seeking a delay in any move towards layoffs, and eight of her colleagues who represent other Congressional districts where LAUSD students and employees live signed on to express their support.
When the letter was read at the school board meeting this week, a crowd including teachers, other school workers and parents of students rose to give it a standing ovation. They breathed a sigh of relief after Superintendent Ramon Cortines and the board postponed a decision on job cuts for next year.
"Students are our future leaders, and we must be committed to providing them the best education possible," said Congresswoman Waters. "Laying off teachers would result in more crowded classrooms, and eliminating the jobs of cafeteria workers, clerical workers and custodians would have a negative impact on the learning environment of our students. I am pleased that the school board heard our call and decided not to enact harmful job cuts now, especially at a time when unemployment in California has already soared to its highest level in more than 25 years."
Congresswoman Waters and her colleagues pointed out that in the recently enacted economic recovery package, Congress provided significant funding to help school districts like LAUSD struggling to meet budget shortfalls. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) established a $53.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund which can be used to restore state education cuts, prevent teacher layoffs, prevent other education cutbacks, and renovate public schools, among other purposes. LAUSD will likely receive some of this funding once the state of California determines how to distribute its portion of ARRA funds.
The full text of the letter Congresswoman Waters and her colleagues sent is attached.
March 31, 2009
Members of the Board
Board of Education
Los Angeles Unified School District
333 South Beaudry Avenue, 24th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Dear Honorable Board Members:
We write as members of the Los Angeles Delegation of the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage you to delay any action that would result in layoffs among Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) personnel at this time.
We fully recognize that you must deal with a budget shortfall and make every effort to balance your budget. However, we have worked very hard to make certain that support for our nation's public schools was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was passed by Congress and then signed into law by the President last month to stimulate our economy. For example, the ARRA establishes a $53.6 billion State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which can be used to restore state education cuts, prevent teacher layoffs, prevent other education cutbacks, and renovate public schools, among other purposes. We are hopeful that you will examine the possibilities of reducing your budget shortfall with resources provided by this economic recovery package, and we offer you our assistance in doing so.
We are living in a time of tremendous economic uncertainty. If personnel were to lose their jobs now, they would face an extremely difficult job market. California employers led the nation in mass layoffs in February as the state's unemployment rate hit 10.5%, the highest level since April of 1983, state and federal labor agencies reported recently. California lost 116,000 jobs in February, bringing the 12-month total to 605,900. Unemployment in Los Angeles County increased by a slightly larger margin, to 10.9% in February from a revised 10.4% in January and 6.1% a year earlier.
Education must be our number one priority. Today's learners are indeed tomorrow's leaders. The personnel who are responsible for the education of our children must be supported in every way possible. The dedicated teachers, cafeteria workers, clerical workers, and custodians of LAUSD deserve nothing less.
Respecting the difficult situation you are in, we call upon you to delay any actions that would cause the layoffs of any personnel at this difficult time. We should not jeopardize the education of our children by laying off dedicated and experienced personnel without considering every possible alternative.
Therefore, we support the resolution offered by Supervisor Marguerite Lamont, and we urge you to pass this resolution. We look forward to working with you to support the personnel who educate the children of Los Angeles.
Maxine Waters Lucille Roybal-Allard
Diane Watson Laura Richardson
Linda Sanchez Howard Berman
Henry Waxman Xavier Becerra
Adam B. Schiff