Posted on May 1, 2014 12:17 pm :: In a surprise move, LA Unified school board will consider a resolution that supports the use of an alternative formula, known as the “Student Need Index,” in deciding how to distribute school funds throughout the district.
LA School Report has learned that Monica Garcia and Board President Richard Vladovic have agreed to co-sponsor a resolution to put before the board at its next meeting, on May 13. Their agreement came a day after his office met with student activists who had collected more than 4,300 petition signatures. (Read story here).
Many of the highest-needs schools centered primarily in south and east Los Angeles are in Vladovic’s own district, which stretches from downtown to Long Beach. A large number are also in Garcia’s district.
Chris Torres, Vladovic’s chief of staff, said Garcia agreed to sponsor the resolution, and Vladovic then signed on as a co-sponsor.
Developed by the Advancement Project along with two community groups, the Community Coalition and InnerCityStruggles, the index establishes a new method of rating schools by need, based on a variety of factors including neighborhood conditions that can affect the lives of students, like gun injuries, access to childcare and asthma rates.
Superintendent John Deasy, who has presented the board a draft budget, congratulated the community groups for their efforts but said the motion from Garcia and Vladovic is unnecessary because the district is already considering several poverty factors for the 2014-2015 budget.
“This is work that was done by the district over a year ago, and we’ve used a similar formula to identify these areas already,” Deasy told LA School Report.
The resolution comes as the board continues to debate how to allocate over $830 million made available by the state through the new Local Control Funding Formula. The LCFF specifies that the money must go to high-needs students; those in foster care, English Language Learners and low-income students. Exactly how the new money is distributed is what the debate is all about.
The teachers union has been silent on the index. The union’s incoming president, Alex Caputo-Pearl has asked for a double-digit pay raise, regardless of where a teacher works. Board members in districts with fewer high-needs students, such as Tamar Galatzan, could take issue with the formula, for the possibility that it could siphon money to other districts.
Galatzan’s office declined to comment until gaining a better understanding of the resolution.
a 4LAKids reader responds, addressing his concerns in a open letter to the Board of Education and to members of the The Local Control Accountability Plan Parent Advisory Committee – both of whom must weigh in on the LAUSD Local Control Accountability Plan:
Dear Board and LAAP Parent Advisory Plan Committee members:
According to LASchoolReport.com, Board President Vladovic and Board Member Garcia will be asking the Board to discard the budget submitted by Superintendent Deasy on April 8 and instead use an alternative distribution proposed by the Advancement Project, InnerCity Struggle and Community Coalition: "This coalition of community and civil rights organizations urges the leadership at LAUSD to live into the spirit and intention of the new Local Control Funding Formula and to allocate all of the Concentration & Supplemental Grants (which could total up to $837M for 2014-2015) to the highest need schools by using this comprehensive and data-driven ranking of schools" .
The proposal can be found at this web page and it offers a list of 242 schools they claim have the highest need. Interestingly, the list includes at least one high school that has a lower ratio of Title I students than all its feeders, both elementary and middle schools. They also do not offer any explanation on how these high need index was calculated from the elements found here.
Regardless of how this index is calculated, what is inescapable is that if this plan was adopted there would be at least three major problems:
- Transferring all the funds from the Supplemental and Concentration grants to these 242 schools violates Ed. Code Section 42238.07(a)(1): "regulations shall ... require a school district ... to increase or improve services for unduplicated pupils in proportion to the increase in funds apportioned on the basis of the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils in the school district..."
- Given that the District recruited parents to serve in the Parent Advisory Committee so they would critique the District's Local Control and Accountability Plan, which is based on the budget submitted by Superintendent Deasy, doesn't this action render their efforts null and void? Where is the willingness of the Board to include parents in this important decision? Doesn't this action send a message that their efforts are not consequential?
- Under the high-need index, the funds would be distributed to 58 schools in Board District 1 (Vacant), 56 schools in District 2 (Garcia), 6 schools in District 3 (Galatzan), 0 schools in District 4 (Zimmer) , 33 schools in District 5 (Kayser), 36 schools in District 6 (Ratliff) and 67 schools in District 7 (Vladovic).
What will you say to the other schools with more than 50% poor children in their enrollment? That according to an unpublished metric they are less poor than the other schools and therefore get zero dollars from the state?
In my opinion, this ill-timed and ill-considered plan has shifted the argument from class warfare. Now the poor have to fight among themselves so that one faction will end up with the whole pie.
This is unconscionable.
I urge you reject the Superintendent’s April 8 draft budget and to vote no if this proposal ever comes to a vote. There is much work to be done moving forward - we can and we must do better for the children of L.A,
Thank you for considering this request.