Wednesday, November 14, 2012


LAUSD rescinds furloughs; school will end on June 7 this year

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer LA Daily News |

Posted:   11/13/2012 12:51:19 PM PST /Updated:  6:58:55 PM PST  ::  Thanks to voter-approved Proposition 30, Los Angeles Unified students will attend school for 180 days this year, the first time since the 2008 financial crisis that the district's academic calendar won't be shortened by a lack of money.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to rescind 10 employee furlough days, which included five instructional days for students.

School will end on June 7 rather than on May 31 as previously scheduled.

Teachers, administrators, school police, clerks and the employees who make up the district's 60,000-member workforce will be reimbursed for three furlough days taken so far this year, and additional days will be canceled.

Schools will still be closed Thanksgiving week, but those lost days will be added on to the end of the school year.

Proposition 30, which was approved Nov. 6 by 54 percent of California's voters, is expected to generate about $6 billion annually by raising the sales tax by a quarter-percent for four years and the tax rate for incomes of more than $250,000 for seven years.

The revenue will stabilize the budgets of districts statewide by reimbursing them for payments that have been deferred since California sank into recession in 2008. This year, for instance, LAUSD should have received $6,718 per student, but got only $5,221.

LAUSD rejects voluntary moratorium on new charter schools

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer LA Daily News |

Posted:   11/13/2012 12:36:02 PM PST/Updated:  7:13:30 PM PST  ::  Following a flood of protests from parents and charter supporters, the Los Angeles Unified board on Tuesday soundly rejected a resolution seeking a voluntary moratorium on new charter applications while a strategic plan is developed to better govern their explosive growth.

Board member Steve Zimmer said he saw the need for an in-depth study of the district's charter system, which now educates some 110,000 students and has thousands more on waiting lists. He wanted to monitor how well charter schools are educating students and ways to share methods for closing the achievement gap and boosting parental involvement.

"The milestone of 100,000 is a moment in which we should step back and reflect on what is working in our role as (charter) operator and what isn't," he said. "We need to have a real strategy and a real plan."

But parents and charter supporters saw his resolution as a challenge to their right to choose the appropriate school for their child, with speakers sharing personal stories of how charters had changed their lives.

"You shouldn't just vote against the resolution," said parent Katrina George, whose handicapped son struggled at a traditional school but thrived once he was enrolled in a charter. "You should do the opposite and open more charters. At the end of the day, this should be about the kids."

Zimmer's colleagues said they'd tried to talk him out of pursuing the resolution, and Superintendent John Deasy said it was unnecessary.

"The work can be done without the resolution," Deasy said.

In the end, Zimmer and board member Bennett Kayser cast the only yes votes for the resolution. Board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte had left during the debate and was not present for the vote.

Zimmer's original resolution, introduced in September, called on the board to postpone or refer new charter applications to the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Critics noted that would be illegal, and he revised the proposal to ask charter operators to voluntarily hold off on submitting new applications until a timetable was in place for the suggested reforms.

Parents signed petitions and as many as 2,000 demonstrators flooded the street in front of LAUSD during a lunchtime protest. Most were gone by the time the board got through a lengthy agenda.

"We're not the enemy," said charter pioneer Joe Lucente, repeating comments he made during the demonstration. "Our very existence benefits all students, whether in traditional or charter schools... Don't fear us, embrace us."

The board also wrestled with arequest to renew the charter for Gabriella Charter, which shares space with Logan Span School in Echo Park. Parents from both schools - both of them thriving - said there just wasn't room on the campus to meet the needs of the students.

The board OK'd the extension with the charter, which boasts an arts education program and an API of 894, with the understanding that Deasy will try to find additional space for Gabriella.

Zimmer said it was just this sort of situation - "a collision of goodness" - he wanted to avoid when he introduced his resolution.

"The system has become about competition and not innovation," he said.

"I want to know what we can do best when we collaborate."

Board members Tamar Galatzan and Nury Martinez admonished Zimmer that he could not work around Proposition 39, the voter-approved measure that requires school districts to accommodate space requests from independent charters.

"Ten years ago, voters approved Prop. 39," Martinez said. "To continue to have these debates when you know what the law is polarizes hundreds of thousands of parents ... Be done with it, Mr. Zimmer."

LAUSD appoints new heads of Facilities and Food Services divisions

By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer LA Daily News |

Posted:   11/13/2012 04:35:03 PM PST  ::  The interim directors of LAUSD's Facilities and Food Services divisions were appointed by the school board Tuesday to the permanent posts.

Mark Hovatter, an engineer who has worked for Los Angeles Unified for more than 25 years, will oversee the multi-billion dollar Facilities Division, which is responsible for construction, maintenance and leasing of the district's schools, offices and other properties. He will earn $218,780 a year. He succeeds Kelly Schmader, who left in June to take the top facilities job at UCLA.

David Binkle will be responsible for the division that serves up 650,000 meals daily at schools across the sprawling district. He will earn $142,540 a year. He is a master chef who joined the district in 2007 as the No. 2 to Dennis Barrett, who retired earlier this year.

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