Federal aid package expected to save 2,500 teaching jobs in L.A.

12:59, August 12, 2010      

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A federal aid package signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to save 2,500 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teachers' jobs, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said on Wednesday.

The measure is expected to save 16,500 teacher jobs across California, and about 15 percent -- roughly 2,500 -- of those jobs are likely to be in the LAUSD, the largest public school system in the state and the second-largest in the country, Villaraigosa told a news conference at the City Hall.

Villaraigosa said schools in all of Los Angeles County will likely account for 30 percent of the 16,500 jobs saved in the state, while schools in the greater metropolitan area will account for almost 50 percent of all the jobs saved.

"L.A. is going to benefit disproportionately because of the fact that so many people live in this city, and they're a big proportion of the state," Villaraigosa said.

But not all teacher layoffs will be prevented, according to city official Jane Harman.

"The recession has forced California to cut K-through-12 (from kindergarten through 12 grades) funds by 17 billion dollars over the past three years," she said. "The Torrance Unified School District in my congressional district has laid off 160 teachers in the last two years, and sadly, even with this (measure), more layoffs may be coming."

"The teachers who remain may take a pay cut of at least 3.5 percent when they are furloughed for five days at the end of the year and yet, despite these cuts, Torrance's test scores continue to rise annually," Harman said.

"From 2005, their academic performance index has risen 34 points. This is a testament to the professionalism and talent of the teachers," she added.

The 26.1-billion-dollar aid package signed by Obama is expected to keep 161,000 teachers and thousands of police officers, firefighters and other local government workers from being laid off nationwide. It will also increase funding for Medicaid, which provides healthcare for low-income people.

The measure is fully funded by ending certain tax breaks for companies that operate overseas, and by ending a food stamp program earlier than originally scheduled. It is also expected to reduce the federal deficit over the next 10 years.



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