February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

LAUSD Lays Off 22 Library Aides While Green-lighting Pay Raises

A total of 22 library aides have lost their jobs in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for the 2015-2016 school year even as the district increased its budget by $850,000 from last year.

A budget of $7.8 billion was approved by the Los Angeles Board of Education on June 23, which includes a 10 percent pay raise for teachers and administrators. But layoffs are also on the books—including 261 teachers from adult education, with additional layoffs of secretaries, teaching aides and library aides, among other positions, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A budget correction, expected the second week of July, will reduce the number of layoffs, says Gayle Pollard-Terry, LAUSD’s senior deputy director of communications and media relations, by email.

“If the state provides extra funds, the layoffs will be rescinded,” she wrote.

Still, making layoffs doesn’t make sense to former Los Angeles school board member and classroom teacher David Tokofsky, who says there should be more than enough funds to cover pay raises and to keep current staff, if not add more.

“There is so much money,” he says. “The question really should be how much more should we be adding to our librarians and libraries.”

LAUSD had prioritized the re-opening of all of its elementary school libraries with three-hour library aides approved for the 2014-2015 school year.. But as of April 2015, about 60 elementary schools were reportedly still without the library aides needed to run their libraries. (California state law dictates that school libraries be run by trained staff—and not volunteers.)

One such library aide, Franny Parrish, is being reassigned to another school for the coming school year. She says those library aides being laid off are some of its newest hires. Parrish says that to re-open elementary school libraries, LAUSD began having library aides split locations. The problem is many were assigned, or asked to cover areas that were far from where they lived.

“With gas at $4 a gallon, it was hard to place people,” says Parrish, a library aide with LAUSD at Dixie Canyon Elementary School in Sherman Oaks, and political action chair for the California School Employees Association, a union that represents library aides. “We got a lot of new people, but we had trouble filling positions that were out of the way.”

Multiple requests to speak with LAUSD staff by phone were not granted. Instead, LAUSD responded to questions by email when asked how many layoffs would be reduced if additional funds were awarded by the state.

“Both the superintendent and the Board of Education members indicated at the meeting on Tuesday that a priority is rescinding all layoffs for 2015-16,” stated Pollard-Terry by email.


Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

School Library Journal contributing editor Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business, and technology. A recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism, she can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.