Saturday, August 17, 2013


By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News |

8/16/13, 7:59 PM PDT   ::  The battle is expected to begin in earnest Tuesday over how Los Angeles Unified should spend hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue generated by a voter-approved sales-tax hike that will bring a windfall to the district under the state’s new education-funding formula.

A trio of school board members led by President Richard Vladovic has called for hiring more teachers, counselors, librarians and support workers next year in an effort to shrink class size and restore staff-to-student ratios to levels last seen before the recession hit in 2007-08.

They asked Superintendent John Deasy to devise a plan on how those jobs could be restored, as well as strategies for increasing enrollment in preschool and adult education programs and boosting arts funding.

Deasy, meanwhile, wants to use revenue from Proposition 30 to give raises to all 60,000 district employees, who haven’t had a pay hike in five years.

During Tuesday’s board meeting, Deasy will present a breakdown of the estimated costs of the budget options, which together total more than $1 billion. He also included $350 million needed to close an expected structural deficit in 2014-15.

According to his projections, it would cost roughly $400 million annually to reach the board’s staffing goals for administrators, teachers, librarians, janitors, clerical and classified staff, and to hire a psychiatric social worker for every campus. Board members have said that classes now average 30 students or more, compared with 19 before the recession.

Boosting enrollment at adult schools would cost $63 million, with $20 million needed to expand preschool programs. The report also estimates $15 million for arts education.

Summer school programs would get more than $54 million, allowing the district to offer credit-recovery classes as well as enrichment courses for students who want to get ahead or expand their learning. This year, the district allocated just $1 million for summer school and limited enrollment to students who needed to make up a failed class.

Responding to a separate proposal to extend the school year by three to four weeks, Deasy budgeted $15 million per day, for a total of $225 million to $300 million.

Finally, Deasy’s goal of giving across-the-board raises of 1 to 6 percent would cost $40 million to $240 million, according to the plan.

The revenue will be coming to the district under the so-called Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts more money to educate poor students, English-learners and foster youth.

Tuesday’s meeting also includes a proposal for allocating $113 million over the next two years to implement the Common Core standards, the new curriculum taking effect in 2014. The state is allocating about $200 per student, which districts can spend on staffing, equipment or training materials.

United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents about 32,000 LAUSD teachers, posted an online survey on its website late last week, asking members to weigh in on the district’s progress in preparing them for the Common Core. It plans to present the results of the poll during Tuesday’s meeting, which starts at 1 p.m.

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