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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Preliminary pink slip hearings for L.A. Unified teachers start Monday

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The annual hearings for teachers who receive preliminary pink slips from L.A. Unified will begin Monday at California Market Center downtown.

The district sent out more than 11,700 such notices to educators last month, with roughly 9,500 including teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses for the 2012-13 school year. The notices are required by law to be sent out by March 15 each year often before budgets and their consequent impacts can be finalized.

L.A. Unified's board approved an updated 2012 budget plan last month that — without union concessions — includes major cuts to adult and early education as well as elementary arts programs to offset a $390 million budget shortfall. The plan provides no funding for its winning Academic Decathlon program, marching band and outdoor education.

UTLA President Warren Fletcher has urged district officials to reverse thousands of the preliminary pink notices it has sent out to district educators based on an additional $180.5 million that brought down the overall deficit to $390 million from the February $557 million estimate.

"To do otherwise means those teachers and those students, and those schools, are going to be treated as budgetary hostages and budgetary bargaining chips," Fletcher told board members in March.

Fletcher said the district sent out a historic number of preliminary pink slips this year.

"That's one-fourth of the district’s educators," Fletcher said. "If you were actually to follow through and finalize those pink slips, obviously you'd destroy this district."

The layoff hearings are expected to last through June, according to a UTLA release. Meanwhile, a third interim budget plan is due June 15, and the district's budget will be voted on and finalized by June 30.

Of course, the district's budget situation is also dependent on what happens at the state level. Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2012 budget depends on voters approving a November ballot initiative to raise taxes; without its passage education would be hit by a $5.2 billion cut across the state.

Statewide nearly 20,000 preliminary pink slips were sent out to teachers last month as districts across the state prepared for their "worst case scenario" budgets.

At L.A. Unified the 2012 budget plan presumes Brown's measures, which would generate an estimated $6.9 billion annually, will pass.

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

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