By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News/Pasadena Star News | http://bit.ly/18Ypwhz
3/24/15, 12:01 AM PDT | In an effort to avoid losing millions of dollars because of a failed record-keeping system, the president of the teachers union called Tuesday for Los Angeles Unified’s superintendent to travel with him to Sacramento and explain the MiSiS crisis to California’s top education chief.
District officials estimate losses of up to $47 million, in part because the system bungled attendance records the state usually requires to determine funding levels.
“The state has a process that ensures school districts are not penalized when there’s an earthquake or a blizzard that affects attendance,” United Teachers Los Angeles President Alex Caputo-Pearl said. “MiSiS is worse than an earthquake and blizzard together in terms of the amount of attendance count loss here.”
California law allows State Superintendent Tom Torlakson to waive the attendance reporting if records have been lost or destroyed, California Department of Education spokeswoman Pam Slater said in a written statement. LAUSD has yet to make such a request, Slater said.
MiSiS launched at the start of the school year, losing attendance records, transcripts, class schedules, grades and other information needed for campuses to operate. Students were left stranded in the wrong classes for weeks. Teachers reverted to taking attendance on paper forms from decades ago.
While district officials continue to reconcile the bungled records, they are not prepared to say precisely how much money will be lost as a direct result of MiSiS, Assistant General Counsel John Walsh said. Without a waiver from Torlakson, district officials will need to nail down and substantiate their figures by the state’s April 21 deadline.
LAUSD reported an average daily attendance of 513,765.9 to the state in January. The preliminary figure is down from the 532,932.8 reported last year, according to LAUSD figures.
The district anticipates losing an additional $10 million due to declining enrollment, Walsh said. LAUSD projects 3.1 percent fewer students next year and 2.7 percent fewer in the 2016-17 school year.
School board members feared losing the $57 million as part of a projected $88.4 million deficit when they voted earlier this month to notify 609 teachers, counselors and social workers they might be laid off in May.
In an email to Torlakson earlier this month, UTLA states all of the $47 million loss would be a result of MiSiS.
Caputo-Pearl said he hopes a meeting with Torlakson and LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines will “clarify what the MiSiS discrepancies are and get that $47 million back for our schools and our students.”
I can’t resist pointing out that UTLA members are refusing to attend faculty meetings at their schools – and contract negotiations are officially at an impasse …but UTLA President Alex Caputo Pearl is proposing to fly up to Sacramento with Superintendent Cortines, take a meeting with Tom Torlakson and fly back – hopefully with $47 million in their carry-ons in the return trip.
Maybe they can chat on the airplane and resolve some other issues they have outstanding. Class size? Salaries? One nurse in every nurse’s office? I have a couple of Southwest drink coupons I’m willing to commit to the effort if that would help.