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LAUSD board votes down proposed staff layoffs; approves iPads

LAUSD Board of Education voted Tuesday against proposed staff layoffs
LAUSD Board of Education voted Tuesday against proposed staff layoffs
Tami Abdollah / KPCC

The LAUSD school board voted Tuesday to cancel more than 200 proposed pink slips, ensuring the district will not lose any more health and human services employees in the coming academic year. 

The positions – mostly school counselors, psychologists, nurses and school librarians – are typically funded by individual school sites. Officials said it was the schools themselves that submitted them for layoffs.

The board was slated to approve those layoffs at its regular meeting Tuesday. Instead, Superintendent John Deasy proposed paying for the 208 jobs out of the district’s general fund. The board voted unanimously to support that amendment.

During the same meeting, the board also approved Deasy's proposal to spend millions to supply every student and teacher with a tablet computer by 2014.

UTLA members were pleased with the board's decision not to institute layoffs. UTLA Treasurer and school speech therapist Arlene Inouye said the union would ultimately like to have all Health and Human Service positions centrally funded because they are “basic essential services that need to be provided in all our schools for all our students.” 

District employees had intended to protest today’s board meeting but cancelled their plans after the vote.

The passage of Proposition 30 has allowed the district to restore its budget to pre-recession levels. Furlough days have been eliminated and prior year deferrals are being paid back. ? ?

District officials said they no longer anticipate any layoffs for the upcoming school year.

Deasy's plan to supply all 650,000 students in the district with a tablet computer by 2014 will ultimately cost $500 million. The tablets are supposed to support the transition to Common Core Standards. They are being paid for by revenues raised for school construction bonds R, Y, and Q, which voters approved to address “unmet facilities needs.”

Several school principals spoke during the meeting about a spike in math and English test scores after incorporating tablet apps into their lesson plans.

Gina Russell-Williams, principal at Curtiss Middle School, said the tablets would help her teachers provide additional intervention and tutorial services to students. Other teachers said teaching students on tablets would allow them to compete with wealthier, smaller, private schools.

Board member Bennett Kayser abstained from the vote, saying in a statement after the meeting that the process should be slowed down and studied further. No one voted against the measure.