Some teachers tell LA Unified they're open to furlough

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In a closed meeting today a group of L.A. Unified teachers told the president of the school district's board they're open to furloughs to help avert layoffs. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: Just last week, L.A. Unified's school board postponed laying off thousands of teachers to balance its budget. It did so in order to negotiate pay cuts and furloughs with its labor unions this week.

School board president Monica Garcia spoke with reporters after she'd met with several dozen teachers at a middle school library near downtown L.A.

Monica Garcia: There is a lot of feeling, concern, anxiety, anger about the impact on instruction in Los Angeles.

Guzman-Lopez: Teacher John Duff was partly responsible for the meeting. The president of his union has strongly opposed discussing furloughs. After an informal survey of his colleagues, Duff found that many teachers didn't agree with union leadership.

John Duff: I think things are bleak and I think it should be looked at as an option. Certainly if it comes to losing our new teachers, they are the next generation of teachers, we should just do it.

Guzman-Lopez: Teacher Julian de la O – a campus union representative – said he told board president Garcia during the meeting that he'd agree to furloughs only as a last resort.

Julian de la O: But first they gotta get rid of programs that do not work and spend a lot of money. We don't want it to be the Wall Street approach where it's always the working class, always the people at the bottom getting cut.

Guzman-Lopez: In response, Garcia said she'd propose that school board members cut their office budgets by half. That would save the district about $3 million. L.A. Unified faces a deficit of close to $600 million.