LAUSD chief proposes shortening school year 6 days

Superintendent Ramon Cortines proposed Friday cutting the Los Angeles Unified School District's school year by six days in an attempt to minimize layoffs for the district.

"I am reluctantly proposing that we pursue a reduction of the school instructional year by five days for 2009-10, plus one pupil-free workday, creating the opportunity for furlough days for all personnel in the district." Cortines said.

The proposal would save a projected $90 million for the district, which is facing a projected $640 million deficit, Cortines said.

The state budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year allows districts to reduce the school year by five days. Any reduction in the school year would have to be approved by the various unions representing the district's employees.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing the district's teachers, have no position on the proposed reduction of the school year, union president A.J. Duffy said.

"Many of our members think a furlough day is an option that is far better than a pay cut and I agree,'' Duffy said.

Duffy said he would speak with union officers Tuesday to discuss the matter.

The union will also try to "figure out internally how we can help parents help their kids who lose five days of education,'' Duffy said.

The union conducted seminars last year where teachers told parents what they could do to make up for the cancellation of summer school. A similar program could be offered, Duffy said.