Saturday, April 18, 2009

THE LAUSD BUDGET: What we know/What we don't know.

by smf for 4LAKids


· The Federal government though the stimulus package is committed to maintain and create jobs in public education – that is the goal of this initial phase of the stimulus. Reform comes later, with different dollars.

· LAUSD's budget, approved last Tuesday, is reform and 'rightsizing' driven: the Board of Ed voted to reduce and eliminate, not save and create jobs, positions and programs.

· Yes, 1996 elementary teacher positions from a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) pool of over ten thousand were 'saved' – but 8,541 jobs were done away with Tuesday. The possibility of saving 3,167 of these jobs through the federal stimulus was relegated to the school sites' discretion – if they can find the money and can figure out the district, state and federal mandate. 5,374 jobs cannot be saved under the 4/13 budget plan.

· The California Ed Code says that only the Board of Education has hiring and firing authority.

· The first of the Federal Stimulus was released by the feds to the state Friday; California was the first state in the nation to receive the funding.

· The feds say the governor has authority and responsibility to send the money to school districts. The legislature says the California Constitution gives them that sole authority. Where the California Superintendent of Public Instruction – the state's premiere elected official in education fits in is unclear – but he has weighed in (see $3.1-BILLION ECONOMIC STIMULUS WINDFALL OFFERS A CHANCE TO REFORM CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS, TOP EDUCATION OFFICIAL SAYS, following) In LAUSD the Board of Ed and the superintendent are at odds with O'Connell's advice to come up with "creative solutions that benefit all students" while saving jobs of teachers, administrators and employees. They are intent on rightsizing – pushing the decision making authority on saving jobs out to the 900 school sites.

· The March 10th Board of Ed meeting – the first reading of the district budget – was held with no public witnesses, broadcast by a single TV camera controlled by the board from am undisclosed location behind locked doors, inaccessible to the public — in extremely dubious compliance with the state's open meeting law.

· At the next Board of Ed budget hearing on March 31st Dr. Vladovic recused himself – removing himself from the process – citing a conflict of interest. His son was subject to layoff under the proposed RIF proposal.

· Absent consensus, under pressure of the District's congressional delegation and in deference to the public the board voted to postpone to a certain time (the regular April 13th meeting) the motion on the floor (the budget resolution).

· Immediately prior to the April 13th meeting a special meeting was held and Dr. Vladovic's son and 1995 other teachers were removed from the RIF list. Dr. Vladovic did not participate in the special meeting.

· At the April 13 regular meeting – at which the budget resolution was reconsidered as amended – Dr. Vladovic was recorded at the opening roll call as absent. Whether he was ever recorded as present is unclear. From time to time he came and left. At no time did he announce he was no longer recused.

· When the final vote was taken there was a 3 to 3 tie; Dr. Vladovic not being present. In a tie vote the motion would have failed – but the vote was left open pending Dr. Vladovic's return

· When Vladovic returned he explained his absence as illness (…with perhaps more detail then was required!) Asked for his vote he made an inquiry of counsel: [LATimes: "He then asked for a legal opinion on whether the district could spend more restricted money to save jobs. The district's top lawyer warned against it." — this in itself is parliamentarily questionable, no further information should be provided during a vote], He got a reply and recorded an Aye vote. 4 to 3 the motion carried.


· Questions arise as to whether Dr. Vladovic's participation was correct in light of his:

1. previous recusal on a continued motion,

2. absence at the roll call and

3. absence at the vote – which was understood by some witnesses as his continued recusal.

· There is also question as to whether the decision to save the 1996 elementary positions was engineered to secure Vladovic's participation.

· 4LAKids questions what the intended and unintended consequences of saving the 1996 elementary teachers will be. The initial RIF was proposed to facilitate class size increase; now 2000 more teachers are available but the class size increase mandate was not addressed in the budget. What exactly will those teachers are doing?

· How School Site Councils – charged under this budget with determining which RIFed teachers and staff will be rehired — and untrained and unprepared for this fiduciary and ethical responsibility – will function when they are likely to be composed of RIFed employees and their co-workers – and by parents whose children will be served by impacted employees.

· The composition of SSCs is statutory, they are elected bodies and their makeup is formulated to create equitable representation of employees, administration, parents and community, and in secondary: students. Wholesale recusal would disturb the equity

· SSC meetings, normally open, will be closed as they would be discussing personnel matters. This creates both the appearance-of and actual conflicts of interest of biblical proportions with little or no transparency, accountability or oversight. Stay tuned.

Tune in and watch: The April 13th Board meeting will be rebroadcast Sunday, April 19, 10:24 AM on KLCS/Channel 58 - CHANNEL 58.1 Check your cable listings for which channel it is carried.

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