Long Beach district to cut five school days

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Students in the Southland’s second-largest public school district are the latest to lose instructional days because of cuts in state education funding.

Long Beach Unified’s 87,000 students will not attend classes the week of Thanksgiving. They’ll also have a four-day weekend next March. Leaders of the school district’s teachers’ union agreed to the five furlough days so the district can address an expected $60 million deficit in its budget.

“While the shorter school year is not ideal, it is part of a fair agreement that helps us to save jobs and protect students and teachers from even deeper cuts to the classroom,” Long Beach Unified Superintendent Chris Steinhauser said in a statement.

Teachers' union president Michael Day told the Long Beach Press-Telegram the district's assurance that jobs would be saved convinced him to agree to the unpaid days off. Final approval from the union and the school board is expected within a month and a half.

Two months ago Los Angeles Unified, the region’s largest district, became the first to help close a budget gap by cutting a dozen instructional days this school year and next.

Some critics say those cuts amount to Band-Aids. A budget update from the governor this week is likely to reveal a larger state deficit than school officials expect. That means public schools may enact even more cuts than those administrators are preparing now.