LAUSD union members rally, demand an end to alleged ‘Carvalho Cuts’

Delilah LAUSD union rally 3 1

Members of UTLA and SEIU Local 99 rally outside of Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters on May 7, 2024.

Credit: Delilah Brumer / EdSource

Thousands of Los Angeles Unified School District teachers and employees took to the street outside the district headquarters on Beaudry Avenue — demanding an end to what they describe as the “Carvalho cuts.” 

Members of both United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and SEIU Local 99, which represents roughly 30,000 workers in LAUSD, anticipate staffing and program cuts in the upcoming academic year, despite Los Angeles Unified having roughly $6.3 billion in its reserves. 

“We’re out here making sure the district hears us and funds our positions properly,” said Conrado Guerrero, the SEIU Local 99 president, who has served as a building engineer in LAUSD for 27 years.

“We’re so understaffed…..We’re being overworked, and they’re underpaying us. After a while, you just become a robot from working and don’t have time to be with your family.”

UTLA also claims in a media release that LAUSD has failed to set aside enough money to keep its current staffing and services and is instead planning to “reclaim an unprecedented portion of ‘carryover’ funds’ that schools rely on to address budget shortfalls.” 

Amidst declining enrollment, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho also told The 74 in an interview in December that LAUSD was implementing a targeted hiring freeze and may have to consider consolidating or closing some of its schools as pandemic aid funds run dry. 

“Los Angeles Unified is committed to prioritizing investments that directly impact student learning and achievement. We are exploring a multi-faceted approach that combines fiscal responsibility with strategic resource allocation,” an LAUSD spokesperson said in a statement to EdSource Tuesday. 

“We will protect our workforce and the historic compensation increases that were negotiated, and we will protect programs for our students.” 

If the cuts take place, union members fear these positions positions, among others, could be at risk: 

  • special education assistants
  • campus aides
  • school supervision aides
  • pupil services 
  • attendance counselors
  • psychiatric social workers
  • school psychologists
  • library aides
  • IT and tech support staff
  • Art and music teachers

The unions have stated that on top of reducing students’ access to services such as mental health and special needs support, the cuts will also lead to less clean classroom environments and larger class sizes. 

Support for programs like the district’s Black Student Achievement Plan, Community Schools and English Language Learners programs could also take a hit, they say. 

Cheryl Zarate, an eighth-grade teacher at Thomas Starr King Middle School, said she found out about the cuts from her school principal and immediately felt “devastated.” 

Thomas Starr King Middle School alone could lose as many as six campus aides, two counselors, school climate advocates, custodians and an assistant principal, Zarate said. School psychologists, she added, will no longer be available every day — and will only be on campus twice a week.

These cuts, Zarate said, would have a particularly negative effect on students with disabilities and those who are struggling with mental health challenges. 

“It scares me and the other educators to know that we have middle school students who go through mental fatigue and anxiety and, God forbid, have suicidal ideations,” Zarate said. 

“Are we supposed to schedule out when a student is going to have a mental breakdown?” 

Zarate added that LAUSD should be focused on keeping and supporting their staff, not prioritizing other initiatives such as the diagnostic assessment tool called iReady and its newly launched AI tool, Ed. 

“All these projects….are not relevant to what we asked and fought for, which is a full time staff…mental health, safety, a greener campus for our students,” Zarate said. 

“That’s what we deserve. That’s what the students deserve.”

Amidst a sea of UTLA red and SEIU purple, the rally’s participants shook tambourines, waved pom poms and chanted “stop the cuts.”

Among them was William Chavez, a social science teacher at Wilson High School, who has worked in LAUSD for a decade. 

“We’re sending a clear, unified message to the superintendent and the school board that these deep cuts are unfair and unjust,” Chavez said. “We’ll all have to wear more hats. We’ll have to do even more work, and something’s got to give, and that really hurts the students.”

Delilah Brumer is a sophomore at Los Angeles Pierce College majoring in journalism and political science and a member of EdSource’s California Student Journalism Corps.

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