Monday, October 23, 2006


by Naush Boghossian, Staff Writer, LA Daily News

10/23/2006 - Members of the Los Angeles Unified school board are scrambling to hit deadlines for grant applications and other funding sources before they turn over most of their authority to the mayor Jan. 1, saying if they wait, schools and students could lose out.

With the board's authority over budget issues being stripped by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Assembly Bill 1381, board members are concerned that significant funding will fall by the wayside.

"If we don't take action before Jan. 1 and AB 1381 is not declared unconstitutional, we don't know how the money will be divvied out to the schools and whether they'll receive it or not," board member Julie Korenstein said, alluding to the suit filed by the district and a coalition of groups and parents challenging the legality of the law. "It's shocking to find this out, but I will venture to say there will be many other issues that will come out in the near future, and we'll find out AB 1381 will have a negative impact on the children of L.A. Unified."

The Mayor's Office declined to comment.

In a presentation Monday, California School Boards Association Executive Director Scott Plotkin said the district faces funding challenges because of declining enrollment and the implementation of AB 1381.

One example of uncertainty stems from funding for counseling programs - funds school boards must act on - at about $30,000 per school.

A representative of the California School Boards Association advised the board to act on it before Jan. 1 to avoid losing out on the money.

"This is the kind of thing you need to start looking at now," said Rick Pratt, assistant executive director of the CSBA.

District staffers have also been directed to provide the board with an analysis of all issues that could be affected by the legislation taking effect Jan. 1.

But there is a sense of uncertainty and lack of clarity about the changes that will take place when the law goes in effect.

"There will be more detail then, but I think there are things no one has even thought about, issues that will blindside us all because this was not a well-thought-out bill," Korenstein said. "I don't think anybody looked at the little innuendoes of the law, and it's the intricacies of (AB) 1381 that people have not defined yet," she said. "We don't know what will happen."

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