Hours before a potentially contentious school board meeting, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent John Deasy chastised the Los Angeles media for their misplaced priorities.
"This whole week, we've watched you all cover on the news this fascination about this rock being moved from the quarry to a museum," Deasy said to KTLA. "I like art too, but I like art teachers better, and a fraction of the money [spent] on moving the rock could have saved elementary art for many, many years."
"Levitated Mass," the rock that Deasy refers to, is an art installation by Michael Heizer. Its 105-mile journey from a Riverside rock quarry to LACMA cost $10 million and was funded by private art patrons.
KTLA reporter Eric Spillman's segment asserted that the district "always or usually" manages to stave off most layoffs and save the majority of school programs, despite dire budget deficits.
Deasy countered, saying, "any job [cut], to me, is bad. We should be adding jobs, not cutting jobs."
LAUSD's previously projected $557 million budget deficit for this school year has shrunk to $390.2 million, thanks to unexpected revenue from the state lottery. That means that the majority of the 11,700 layoff notices that the district sent out on Monday evening will likely be rescinded, KPCC notes.
A statement from LAUSD noted that at the same time last year, the district sent out 7,300 layoff notices in anticipation of a budget deficit. Nearly half of those layoff notices were eventually rescinded.
Tuesday afternoon's public board meeting on worst-case scenario budget cuts is expected to be packed with teachers and other district staffers making the case to save their departments. SEIU's Local 99 union, comprised of custodians, teacher assistants, bus drivers and cafeteria workers will rally near LAUSD headquarters against drastic budget cuts and extra security has been hired for this meeting.
Also on the agenda are two resolutions to reform the school district's response to potential abusers on staff. One would standardize the district's outreach to school parents in the event of an employee transfer, suspension or arrest for abuse or misconduct.
The other would hasten the process for dismissing employees who act unprofessionally or immorally, as well as take away the right to pension and retirement benefits in the event of a criminal conviction.