LAUSD board hears pleas to boost campus hiring, academic programs in 2013-14
By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Newspaper Group [Daily Breeze/Daily News] | http://bit.ly/13873q8
Pleas for more school funding come amid budget warnings
By Howard Blume.LA Times | http://lat.ms/1388GUx
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez | | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC http://bit.ly/11EdHBG
6/04/2013 08:09:14 PM PDT :: The teachers union called for hiring more instructors while the administrators union wants more assistant principals.
Various campus employees requested more librarians and gym teachers, counselors and social workers.
Adult Education students want more classes.
And parents just wanted more of everything for their kids.
Two weeks before the Los Angeles Unified board is set to approve the 2013-14 budget, officials scheduled a special meeting Tuesday to hear how the public wants its money spent. There were no surprises, however, as about two dozen speakers pleaded with officials to use an expected increase in state funding to restore programs lost during the six-year recession.
"Bring us out of the dark ages of public education," said a mom from Venice, encouraging the board to use the money to hire more teachers and bring back small classes like those touted by charter schools.
Board members Bennett Kayser, Richard Vladovic and Steve Zimmer have already called for returning class size to pre-recession levels in a resolution that was introduced without comment. But the resolution won support from United Teachers Los Angeles President Warren Fletcher, who said it fulfilled the promise of Proposition 30, a voter-approved sales-tax hike to fund public education.
"Children have made sacrifices by having their opportunities cut. Employees have made substantial and repeated
sacrifices, with pay cuts in three of the last four years. We have the opportunity to begin healing now and we can keep the promise together," Fletcher told the board. "We need to put the needs of the classroom first."
The speakers included about a half-dozen Adult Education students and teachers protesting proposed cuts in class offerings for 2013-14. Officials have said they plan to maintain funding for Adult Ed at $78 million next year but that they would have to eliminate some courses as a way to absorb cost-of-living hikes.
Board member Zimmer asked to receive a detailed plan on the future of Adult Ed on June 18, when the board is scheduled to approve next year's $6 billion general fund budget.
That's also when the board is expected to get into the real debate over the district's spending priorities.
Superintendent John Deasy posted his own views for the district on Monday at lausd.net, outlining a long-range plan that proposes using Prop. 30 revenue to give raises to all 80,000 district employees, pay down the structural deficit and restore "enrichment supports and safety nets" like summer school, advanced academic classes and after-school tutoring.
To view LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy's vision for the next three years, click here
"As you know, we can do anything we want," Deasy said in his plan. "We just can't do everything we want."
Most of Tuesday's meeting was spent discussing the Local Control Funding Formula, the plan by Gov. Jerry Brown to overhaul how public schools are funded. It takes money now earmarked for special programs and funnels it to the districts, giving them discretion over how best to serve their students.
The plan also provides more money for districts with large numbers of English-learners, foster children and students from low-income families, which for LAUSD would mean a boost of $188 million next year.
The state Assembly and Senate have each presented its own version of the funding plan, which is part of the state budget how being hammered out in Sacramento. The Legislature is required by law to pass a budget by June 15.
Tuesday's meeting had been called by Kayser as a way to bring "transparency" to the budget process. It was originally scheduled for 5 p.m., so parents could come after work, but rescheduled to 9 a.m. because several board members had already committed to attend nighttime graduation ceremonies. The evening session turned into a "town hall" on the budget, with Kayser presiding.
Judith Perez, pictured at an elementary school in 2009 , spoke at Tuesday's school board meeting that campuses lack needed administrators, joining the voices calling for staff restorations in the Los Angeles Unified School District. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times / April 30, 2009)
June 4, 2013, 10:57 p.m. :: A parade of speakers implored L.A. school district officials Tuesday to use new revenues to restore and build programs, even amid warnings that budget problems loom and could worsen depending on developments in the state Legislature.
The public hearing and information session, held at Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters, was a prelude to a June 18 vote on a final budget. Unlike in recent years, no teacher layoffs are expected, and there’s even been hiring in non-teaching positions after thousands of layoffs during the recession.
But staffing levels haven’t recovered to those of the 2007-08 school year.
In the interim, class sizes in the early grades have gone up from 20 to 24 students -- and higher in upper grades. Physical education classes have ballooned to more than 60 students. Elementary schools have lost custodial staff and any notion of frequent cleaning; instead, small teams of cleaners rush from campus to campus at night.
The budget picture has improved because of an uptick in the economy and because voters in November passed Proposition 30, a temporary tax increase.
The teachers union has called for sweeping restorations.
“We’ve been through five years of recession,” said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. “We’ve been through savage cuts and those cuts have hurt your children.… Let’s put the needs of the kids in the classroom first.”
Fletcher was hardly alone.
Judith Perez, head of the administrators union, pointed out that only the largest elementary schools have an assistant principal, even as principals are expected to carry out new, time-consuming teacher evaluations, a new discipline policy, a new California curriculum and ramped-up college prep requirements.
And so it went -- with pleas from art teachers, physical education instructors, clerical workers, librarians, counselors, adult school teachers and parents.
But Megan Reilly, the district’s chief financial officer, asserted that L.A. Unified’s $6.8-billion operating budget for next year remains out of balance. The district will consume reserves and then enter the red in future years without further action, she said.
Other officials warned that the state funding proposals remain in flux. The current spending plan of Gov. Jerry Brown offers extra dollars to school systems, such as L.A. Unified, that enroll the most challenging students.
But districts that don’t fare as well are fighting to delay or alter the governor’s plan. At stake for L.A. Unified is as much as $240 million in new ongoing money and $88 million in one-time funding, said Alex Cherniss, chief business officer for the L.A. County Office of Education.
Tuesday’s meeting was held in two parts, with one session beginning at 9 a.m. and the other at 5 p.m. to accommodate work schedules.
Rebecca Hill/KPCC | Monica Ratliff's fifth grade classroom at San Pedro Street Elementary.
June 4th, 2013, 4:03pm :: Update 4 p.m.: L.A. Unified School District board members on Tuesday postponed until June 18 its discussion about two proposals for use of new state funding, but that didn't keep parents and representatives from teachers union from using the public comments portion of the meeting to let board members know their thoughts about using new funds.
"Let's put the needs of the kids and the classroom first. Please do the right thing, support the class size and full staffing initiative," United Teachers Los Angeles president Warren Fletcher told board members.
Some parents worried that Gov. Jerry Brown's supplemental funding formula would be detrimental to campuses with lower numbers of English learners and poor students.
Linda Patterson-Salib said she's worried her daughter won't be able to easily enroll in elective classes when she enters Venice High School in the fall.
"Could you please fund the magnets that you approve and fund them first before you approve more schools," she said.
Previously: Board members at the L.A. Unified School District will hold talks Tuesday morning about how to use funding increases expected from Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed student funding overhaul. You can view an archive of our live Twitter stream in the window below.
Board members have written up two proposals.
The first includes a long list of uses for the expected funds: Hire more teachers to reduce class size, rehire counselors, librarians, and campus maintenance workers. The proposal lists current L.A. Unified class sizes:
The proposal would also direct the superintendent to draw up a three-year strategy to raise employee wages.
Board members Bennett Kayser and Steve Zimmer back this proposal. They have received strong support from the teachers union in past elections.
The second proposal is worded more directly: create a funding method in which additional money follows the student.
Under this proposal, all L.A. Unified schools would get a base funding increase. Any additional funds would help English learners, and poor students and would follow the child to whichever school they attend.
The idea is to guarantee all schools get a boost in funds, including those with a small number of students that qualify for additional money. This proposal, by board member Tamar Galatzan, calls on input from parents, schools, and the community.