By Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/QQV0xx
4/25/14, 1:08 PM PDT :: A pilot program in which the city would join with the Los Angeles Unified School District to coordinate delivery of services to the parents of students was approved Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.
This summer, four schools in the district will implement the program, called Optimizing Access to Service Integrating Success (OASIS), but plans are to incorporate others after any initial kinks are worked out, said Superintendent John Deasy. The council voted 12-0 to back the program.
“We will expand it as quickly as we can because we recognize the need in the city,” Deasy said.
Venice High School, Fremont High School, Audubon Middle School and Utah Street Elementary — some of the neediest in the district in terms of students eligible for federal poverty programs — are the first schools to benefit.
Deasy said the program, which makes the schools potentially a hub of community services — everything from job training and budget planning to access to technology and health care providers — will help the district address the needs of students and their families by coordinating what is available from the city and county.
“We simply need to do whatever it takes to close the education, opportunity and achievement gap,” Deasy said. “OASIS looks at what happens to our youth when they leave in the afternoon.”
The program was developed by SEIU Local 99, which represents the classified workers of the school district and is considered a strong political force in the district. These are the workers outside the classroom — custodians, cafeteria workers, schoolbus drivers and security guards.
“Your vote of approval will help build a partnership with the city that will transform schools at the centers of support for our families,” said Courtney Pew, executive director of the union.
“We recognize that students are often overwhelmed by issues of poverty, hunger and illness at the home. At the end of the school day, they go home, and no parents are there because they are working two and three jobs to make ends meet.”
On the city end, the departments of Economic and Workforce Development, Recreation and Parks, Housing and Library will be asked to report back on what specific services are needed.
Deasy said officials believe parents will be more agreeable to visiting a school campus than they would a government agency to seek assistance.
City Council members embraced the proposal.
“The only request I have is that you come out to the San Fernando Valley district I represent where some of the neediest communities exist,” said Councilwoman Nury Martinez. “Panorama City, the North Valley, Sun Valley. We need to make sure our resources are spent in the neediest communities in the city.”
Councilman Felipe Fuentes said he also wanted the district to look at how other programs can be included, such as street and sidewalk repair, so nothing impedes the students’ trip to school.