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L.A. Schools Chief Offers Ideas for Closing District Budget Gap

Among Supt. Romer's recommendations are trimming jobs and transportation costs. He plans no teacher layoffs or class size increases.

April 10, 2004|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

The superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District unveiled a new package of recommendations Friday for closing the remaining $61.3-million gap in the coming fiscal year's budget.

Supt. Roy Romer's 19 proposals include shifting some general fund costs to the proceeds of voter-approved school-facilities bond measures, cutting transportation costs for special education students and trimming another 19 jobs from the district payroll.

Friday's proposals total $67.4 million, allowing the district to restore $6 million in instructional materials cuts, or $50 per student, authorized last year.

The recommendations follow last month's round of cost-cutting, during which the board of education slashed $428 million, including nearly 500 jobs, mostly from central administration and its 11 subdistricts. District officials needed to slice almost $500 million from their $5.7-billion operating budget before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

Romer said his latest budget-balancing proposals are consistent with his and the board's goal of keeping the cuts as far from the classroom as possible, including no teacher layoffs and no increase in class size.

"We have been creative in doing a lot of things," Romer said, "but we're not out of the woods yet. We have to wait and see what the longer-term budget implications are for this district."

Some of the earlier budget-balancing steps depend on cooperation from the state, and about $150 million is from one-time sources of money.

Spared for the moment are further reductions in the 11 subdistricts. Officially known as local districts, they were created four years ago to bring services closer to the schools and help them increase student achievement. Critics of the local districts, however, including the influential United Teachers Los Angeles union, have called for their dismantling, and Romer and some school board members have talked about possible consolidation.

Romer said he was still working on a proposal for the local districts, which already have been cut 20%, along with central administration. He said he would make a recommendation at Tuesday's board meeting, when he also plans to present a brief report on the proposals offered Friday. He wants the board to vote on his recommendations during its April 22 meeting.

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