Los Angeles Unified Freezes Hiring, Considers Campuses Closures as Federal COVID Aid Expires

Los Angeles Unified Freezes Hiring, Considers Campuses Closures as Federal COVID Aid Expires

Alberto Carvalho, then Miami-Dade Schools superintendent, is seen during a school board meeting in Miami, Fla., on March 1, 2018. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

12/14/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

California’s largest school district has enacted a hiring freeze for some positions and is considering closing or merging some school campuses in anticipation of the loss of federal pandemic funding and declining enrollment, according to district officials.
Los Angeles Unified District Supt. Alberto Carvalho told education news outlet LA School Report last week about the changes, but said that the district is in relatively good financial standing and that enrollment declines are slowing.
He said the district has spent the past two years “reorganizing” positions to streamline school support services, which has saved the district millions.
However, he warned that the district “is not out of the woods yet” financially.
The jobs of about 1,800 staff members—including teachers and counselors—were funded by one-time federal funds and may not be replaced once they leave the district.
However, Mr. Carvalho said “strategically essential positions” will be kept.
“We need to ask the question: is the need still there and is this the right position?” he said.
Of potential campus closures or mergers, Mr. Carvalho also said that “it certainly is a tool in the toolbox. But it’s one that is used as a measure of last resort, and we are nowhere near that point.”
More than $190 billion in federal pandemic funds for public schools across the nation will expire next year. Los Angeles Unified received about $5 billion in such funding last year.
Mr. Carvalho has warned the district since he took office in February 2022 to expect a sharp financial transition when such funding runs dry.
During the district’s budget planning last June, he also noted the district will have to stay “vigilant” in its spending in the coming years, in part due to a decline in enrollment, which is expected to drop by 30 percent over the next decade.
A one-percent decline in enrollment can result in a loss of approximately $55 million in funding for the upcoming school year, according to the budget report.
The district’s enrollment fell from 639,337 in the 2015–16 academic year to 538,295 in 2022–23, a nearly 16 percent drop, or loss of about 100,000 students, according to California Department of Education data.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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