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LAUSD board to discuss budget cuts, pink slips, parcel tax, pedophiles

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L.A. Unified's school board meeting Tuesday is expected to be quite the scene, with discussion of budget cuts including teacher pink slips, a parcel tax to increase district revenue, and resolutions on employee dismissal procedures after recent sex-abuse cases have rocked the district.

The board delayed a February vote on the superintendent's budget plan, which then estimated that the district faced a $557 million budget deficit on its $6 billion budget.

The district has since been readjusted its 2012-13 budget shortfall estimate down to $390.2 million due to the state Legislature's vote to restore transportation funding to schools, higher than expected revenues from the lottery and lower expenditures mostly on benefits, said LAUSD spokesman Thomas Waldman.

A nearly $170-million difference may mean fewer layoffs or less severe cuts to programs. The details on what exactly this new deficit figure means will be detailed by Superintendent John Deasy at Tuesday's meeting.

A plan by L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy based on the $557-million deficit calls for 11,713 certificated positions or people to receive pink slips, including a large portion of instructors in the district's adult education program. The classified employees union says more than 8,000 of its teacher aides, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers could lose their jobs. Notices have already begun to go out, and employees must receive notice by March 15, Waldman said.

"Notices will go out, but the threat to all of them is not as great as before because the deficit has gone down," Waldman said.

The budget plan based on the $557-million deficit would also eliminate the district's adult education, preschool and most elementary arts programs, as well as its funding for its award-winning Academic Decathlon program.

Hundreds of protesters turned out at the board's February meeting to discuss the budget, and many are expected for Tuesday's meeting. United Teachers Los Angeles is planning a protest in the afternoon as is SEIU Local 99, the school worker's union.

"The board took the position several years ago and the superintendent agrees with this, you put forward your worst case scneario," Waldman said. "What we're saying right now is our worst case scenario is a $390 million deficit."

Deasy is also calling for a parcel tax that would cost property owners $298 per year for no more than five years to provide revenue for district coffers. The board will vote on whether to place the measure on the November 2012 ballot Tuesday.

"The revenue generated from this local revenue initiative will support programs for all students in public schools," Deasy said in a statement. "Equally important, these funds would go directly to schools, and cannot be cut or reallocated by Sacramento. This local revenue initiative of less than $25 per month per property owners does for the children of Los Angeles what Sacramento refuses to do."

Since 2008-9 the district has been forced to cut $2.3 billion from its budget, Deasy said.

The approval of a parcel tax would restore some or all of the programs and also help support transportation to and from schools including magnets, Deasy said.

To pass, the parcel tax requires approval by two-thirds of voters within LAUSD boundaries. It is also likely Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measures, to prevent $5.2 billion in education cuts throughout the state, will also be on the November ballot.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).

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