Inflatable LA

LAUSD may have lost six percent of its students from 2001 to 2007 but you'd never know it down at headquarters. That fashionable office--replete with flat screen TVs and on-site dry-cleaning service--has in fact grown by 20 percent during the same period. Seems building empty classrooms wasn't a poor enough allocation of funds for the City of Angels; they also must pay roughly 4,000 district employees an average of $95,000 per annum--2,400 of whom are making more than $100,000. Although California's budget woes have already put pressure on the district to free up dollars, don't get your hopes up. According to Assistant Deputy Superintendent Raymond Cortines, it's harder than it looks. Eliminating compliance officers could cost the district "millions of dollars from federal or state government because [LAUSD] hasn't gotten certain reports in." Incomplete personnel files make it difficult to assess employees--and employees are certainly in no hurry to relinquish their jobs (or the dry cleaning) voluntarily. "You don't know how many years I worked to get downtown," quoth one central office worker. Further, if Cortines does attempt to cut down the ranks, the state Education Code affords "bumping rights" to nonteaching positions--meaning low performing senior administrators would be reassigned to schools, freeing up no space in the budget. (Did we mention that California has the most overregulated schools in the nation?) The financial crisis might be leading to unemployment fears nationwide, but not, it seems, at LA's central office.

"LAUSD Administration Swells 20 Percent in 6 Years," by Beth Barrett, Los Angeles Daily News, September 30, 2008

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