Cortines springs an art teacher after months in ‘teacher jail’

South Gate Middle School teacher Stuart Lutz

South Gate Middle School teacher Stuart Lutz

LA Unified art teacher Stuart Lutz had a celebratory homecoming today as he returned to the classroom after nearly eight months in so-called “teacher jail.”

Lutz was pulled from South Gate Middle School on April 21 while the district investigated allegations of mishandling fundraising money for an annual field trip to Disneyland Art Studio.

Throughout the investigation, Lutz, who is the teachers union Chapter Chair for the school, and his supporters maintained there was no wrong-doing and claimed the disciplinary actions taken against him were in retaliation for his queries into the school budget, complaints about insufficient campus restrooms, and concerns about unsafe conditions for students.

A request for comment from the district’s legal counsel on the findings of the investigation was not returned. However, UTLA spokesperson Suzanne Spurgeon told LA School Report, “At the urging of UTLA, the District — under [Superintendent Ramon] Cortines— took a closer look at Lutz’s case and agreed he should be allowed back at South Gate Middle School.”

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JUST IN: Hamilton High put on lockdown after 3 shot nearby

Hamilton High

*UPDATED

Hamilton High School in West LA was put on lockdown for over an hour this morning after three men were shot in streets near the school, which is located on S. Robertson Blvd. near the 10 Freeway.

The three victims were shot at different locations — with one victim being found on the 3100 block of Helms Avenue — after likely being chased through the streets by at least two shooters, Officer Drake Madison of the LAPD Media Relations Section told LA School Report.

Madison said the three victims were all adult males and were not students at Hamilton. The shooter or shooters are still at large, and the victims are all being treated at local hospitals. No description of the shooters is available, Madison said.

The shooting was reported around 9 a.m. and the lockdown was lifted at 10:40 a.m. The incident may be related to drug or gang activity, Madison suggested.

“It was not random, let’s put it that way,” Madison said.

UPDATE 2:50 p.m. One of the victims in the shooting died, according to NBC Los Angeles.

 

UTLA drops salary demand to 9 percent over 1 year

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

Alex Caputo-Pearl, president of UTLA

Representatives for the teachers union, UTLA, lowered their salary demand yesterday, asking LA Unified for a one-year 9 percent pay increase for the current academic year, with future increases tied to that.

Vivian Ekchian, the district’s chief negotiator, said the proposal “is under review and we will ascertain the cost to the District.”

While the shift suggests movement in contract negotiations that have been stumbling along for months, it still leaves the side far apart, with the district holding to a 2 percent salary increase and one-time bonuses.

The union said on its website that its new demand was done as an effort “to increase the pace of bargaining.” In the same vein, it called for weekly negotiation sessions, starting in January even though the sides have been meeting almost once a week since the talks began.

The union’s latest proposal also included demands for three self-directed voluntary planning and collaboration days to be paid at hourly rate, stipends of $1,000 for materials, full rate pay for professional development  and a potential retirement incentive.

Fully anticipating no immediate agreement from the district, the union’s website said Gov. Jerry Brown‘s new budget in January will reflect how much money LA Unified can expect from the state.

Previous stories: UTLA rejects pay increase offer from districtAnalysis: LAUSD offer to UTLA a march to progress or a strike?

 

CA considering Cortines request to delay use of computer tests

LAUSD Superintedent Ray Cortines

LAUSD Superintedent Ramon Cortines

Responding to a barrage of requests from district superintendents around the state, including a recent appeal from LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines, state education officials will consider a delay in using the results of the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced computerized test as means of measuring academic growth next year.

“This will be a public discussion beginning with the next scheduled State Board meeting in January,” Keric Ashley, a deputy to Tom Torlakson, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, said in a written statement.

He added, “Regardless of this public discussion of the API, schools and parents will receive scores and the Superintendent strongly urges all schools to continue their preparation for the computer-adaptive assessments coming in the spring.”

The outcomes of this year’s reading and math tests are supposed to be used to establish a base in calculating Academic Performance Index (API) scores in 2015-16. But, at a meeting with the California Department of Education in November, leaders from several statewide educational organizations suggested a year-long postponement. They argued that many districts need more time to implement the state’s new Common Core curriculum while others do not posses the technological infrastructure to carry out the exam.

In a letter to Torlakson last week, Cortines joined a growing group of local superintendents’ seeking permission to ignore the test results for “high stakes accountability purposes.”

“We do not feel that our students have had adequate time practicing on the testing devices,” Cortines explained.

As a result, he added, “I would like to ask that any data or scores derived from [testing] not have a negative impact on state and/or federal funds that are allocated for the students in LAUSD.”

The Smarter Balanced tests have replaced California’s statewide exams as the state is transitioning to the Common Core State Standards. All students in third through eighth grade and high school juniors are required to take the exam. In all, nearly 350,000 LA Unified students will take the test in April.

Teachers, LA Unified in last bargaining session of the year

UTLA-Contract-NegotiationsThe teachers union, UTLA, and LA Unified officials will be back at it today, for the last contract negotiations of the year.

The final bargaining session has no set agenda, but Vivian Ekchian, the district’s Chief Labor Negotiator, told LA School Report salary discussions are likely to be front and center.

To that end, the district yesterday sent out an email addressed to its “Dear Employees”  and the subject line: “District’s latest wage offer – willing to pay while talks continue about future increases.”

Earlier this month the district proposed a one-year deal with an equivalent raise of 6 percent. The money would be distributed through a 2 percent ongoing salary increase retroactive to July 1; a 2 percent lump-sum payment based on 2013-14 earnings; and a 2 percent one-time payment for the 2014-15 school year to be paid at the end of this school year.

According to the email, “This offer represents an increase to UTLA members of $48 million above the previous District 4% offer for 2014-15.”

Negotiations on all other issues — class size reductions, so-called teacher jail and teacher evaluations — would continue uninterrupted and UTLA would resume salary negotiations next year.

Although UTLA made no official response, the website pointed out, “the District is still only offering a 2% salary increase.”

The meeting begins at noon today and will take place at UTLA headquarters.

Previous Stories: UTLA rejects pay increase offer from districtAnalysis: LAUSD offer to UTLA a march to progress or a strike?Caputo-Pearl asks energetic UTLA rally: ‘Are you ready for a fight?’

Morning Read: Most CA schools free of computer testing problems

Most schools solve web issues for computer testing
Of the state’s more than 11,000 public schools, fewer than 21 of them will be taking the Common Core assessments this spring on pencil and paper. SI&A Cabinet Report


State likely to support existing lunch standards
California’s enthusiasm for healthy school lunches appears unlikely to change under a Congressional budget bill headed to President Obama for signature. Ed Source


Commentary: Teachers need to be honest about their unions
Many individual teachers are wonderful, inspiring people who deserve admiration and respect. But that simply doesn’t extend to the CTA and CFT. U-T San Diego


Getting kids online at home is key to closing the digital divide 
The FCC voted Thursday to increase funding for the federal e-rate program, which provides money for school districts to access the Internet. The Hechinger Report


The top Education Next articles of 2014
Each year we provide readers with a list of the most popular articles we published that year. Education Next

Snag in suit of ex-LAUSD official who criticized Miramonte payout

Miramonte

A judge ruled today that a former LA Unified official’s lawsuit that claims his contract was not renewed in retaliation for criticizing the district’s handling of the Miramonte Elementary sex abuse case cannot move forward without more information being added to the complaint.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin found that there are not enough details in Gregg Breed‘s complaint to support all of his lawsuit’s allegations, particularly in the areas of retaliation, breach of contract and unjust enrichment, City News Service reported.

The same judge ruled last week that LA Unified’s lawsuit against Breed that charges him with leaking confidential documents to the media can move forward.

The lawsuits are all connected to the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who was convicted last year of committing 23 counts of lewd conduct and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After settling with a number of student victims for $30 million, the district in November reached a record settlement of $139 million with the remaining victims.

The lawsuits between Breed, the district’s former chief risk officer, and the district stem from the cases involving the original $30 million. In a lawsuit filed in January, Breed claims his contract with the district was not renewed in 2013 after he communicated both internally and to the media that the case was mishandled by inexperienced lawyers who were hired as a result of LAUSD cronyism.

Breed told NBC Los Angeles he had proof that the district paid $470,000 apiece to three students who were not actually abused by Berndt.

The district’s lawsuit, filed in 2013, claims Breed leaked confidential papers to the media related to the Miramonte case, a suit that Fruin ruled last week can move forward. Breed’s attorneys had sought dismissal of the lawsuit, arguing that he was being punished for being a whistleblower and speaking out about alleged corruption in the district.

 

JUST IN: Cortines requests delay in counting computer test results

LAUSD Superintendent Ray Cortines

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines

In a sudden reversal for LA Unified, Superintendent Ramon Cortines is asking the state to ignore the district’s Smarter Balanced testing results as a measure of academic growth or improvement next year.

In a letter to the State Schools Chief, Tom Torlakson on Friday, Cortines wrote, “I have determined that it would be untimely to have the test results used for high stakes accountability purposes in spring 2015.”

He explained: “While LAUSD students in grades 3-8 and 11 participated in the Field Test last spring, we do not feel that our students have had adequate time practicing on the testing devices.”

“I would like to ask that any data or scores derived from [testing] not have a negative impact on state and/or federal funds that are allocated for the students in LAUSD,” he added.

The letter did not address what measure the district would or could use in the absence of computerized test results for purposes of tracking student and school levels of academic achievement and for qualifying for federal support dollars.

Torlakson, who was recently elected for a second term, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Cortines has repeatedly expressed concern over the ticking clock on the time students will have to become familiar with wireless devices before taking the math and English exam, aimed at testing the state’s new Common Core standards, in April.

“I do not believe that the assessments this spring will be an accurate demonstration of what students have learned nor what our teachers have taught this school year…We do not feel that students and schools should be penalized for the transition to new standards, new assessments, and new technology,” he wrote to Torlakson.

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Podcast: Teacher of the Year struggled with English as a child

2015 California Teacher of the Year Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher

Lovelyn Marquez-Prueher

Lovelyn Marquez-Preuher, an eighth-grade English teacher at Dodson Middle School in Rancho Palos Verdes, recently became one of five educators the California Department of Education named California Teacher of the Year.

In an interview with Bob Bravo, LA Unified’s Local Instructional Service Center-South Superintendent, for his weekly podcast, Marquez-Preuher discussed her path to becoming a teacher, a road that included coming to America when she was 9 and struggling to learn English. Marquez-Preuher has been teaching for 11 years, the last six at Dodson.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

One of the five winners will be chosen to enter the National Teacher of the Year award, which will be given out by President Obama in April.

Recent California Teachers of the Year honorees from LAUSD include Veronica Marquez (2013), Jose Navarro (2009), Lewis Chappelear (2008) and Kelly Hanock (2006).

LAUSD board honors Marguerite LaMotte, retiring employee

Retiring LAUSD employee Linda Perez with board members Bennet Kayser (L) and Richard Vladovic.

Retiring LAUSD employee Linda Perez with board members Bennet Kayser (L) and Richard Vladovic.

The LA Unified school board honored two people at its meeting Tuesday as retiring 20-year employee Linda Perez received a certificate of appreciation and late board member Marguerite LaMotte was remembered with a moment of silence.

LaMotte was a long-serving member of the board when she passed away on Dec. 5, 2013 at the age of 80. On the year anniversary of her death, the district named a school in her honor, the Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte Elementary School at 4410 Orchard Ave. in south LA.

Before a moment of silence, each member of the board offered words of remembrance of LaMotte. (Click on the below video links to see portions of the meeting when LaMotte and Perez were honored.)

“I’m probably more personally involved with Marguerite than most, although I didn’t sit on the board with her. We were colleagues in many endeavors and friends,” said George McKenna, who won LaMotte’s vacant seat in a special election earlier this year.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines described the ribbon cutting ceremony of the school named for her and said he could feel her presence there.

“She was so focused on the importance of schools and children, and opportunities for children, and this ribbon cutting ceremony was just beautiful,” Cortines said.

Monica Garcia recalled how LaMotte was always friendly despite their often being on opposing sides of issues.

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Heavy rains caused little disruption across LA Unified

rainLA Unified escaped major disruptions because of the rainstorm that swept across the region last night and this morning.

Mark Hovatter, the district’s Chief Facilities Director, told LA School Report today that power was reported out in only four schools, and three were back to normal by mid-morning with one remaining to be rectified by this afternoon.

He also said the district got 203 calls about leaky roofs, which the district immediately placed into three categories: emergency, for those needing immediate repair; urgent and routine.

He said the 40 calls classified as urgent have been repaired, the 121 “urgent” calls would be addressed by the end of the day, and the 42 “routine” problems would be fixed within 30 days.

One benefit to the rain: Fixing roofs, Hovatter said, “is one of our priorities, on the top of the list.”

Ballot order set for 2015 LAUSD board candidate races

election results McKenna beat Johnson* UPDATED
The City Clerk’s office today completed verification of petitions to qualify for the March primary in LA Unified’s four school board races.

After a random draw of letters, the ballot order is now set for how candidate names will appear. Here’s the way they will be listed:

District 1

George McKenna, incumbent

(No one else qualified)

District 3

Carl Petersen

Ankur Patel

Scott Schmerelson

Filiberto Gonzalez

Tamar Galatzan, incumbent

Elizabeth Badger Bartels

District 5

Ref Rodriguez

Bennett Kayser, incumbent

Andrew Thomas

District 7

Lydia Gutierez

Euna Anderson

Richard Vladovic, incumbent

How helpful is being listed first? It’s a question that political scientists have studied for years. Here’s the money quote from “On the Causes and Consequences of Ballot Order Effects” — a recent paper by Marc Meredith of the University of Pennsylvania and Yuval Salant of Northwestern:

“We find that candidates listed first on the ballot are between four and five percentage
points more likely to win office than expected absent order effects.”

Theirs is a highly-academic treatise on the subject that takes into account things like ap,j = αp,t(j) + Incp,jλt(j) + εp,j where αp,t(j) = δp,t(j) + Incp,jγp,t(j) + Xjβp,t(j) .

But in an LA Unified school board race, the more likely influences are incumbency, financial support and turnout.


* In an earlier version several names were mistakenly reversed. This version correct that.

Analysis: LAUSD board contemplates enrollment drop

George KcKenna Dec. 8, 2014

LAUSD board member George McKenna at Tuesday’s board meeting

“Forty years ago we were in competition with private schools. Now, we’re in competition with charters.”

That was LA Unified board vice president Steve Zimmer yesterday, speaking at a board committee meeting where the issue at hand was district enrollment. The number of kids attending the district’s traditional schools has been declining since 2003, now hovering around 650,000, from a high of about 750,000, according to a presentation to the committee.

The dip reflects, in part, a slowing birthrate in the district that began in 1996 and is projected to increase only slightly over the next few years or so.

But the rise of independent charters is an unmistakable factor, as well: Data from the California Charter Schools Associations shows that the number of independent charters within LA Unified rose to 206 this year from 132 in 2009.

And more are on the way. KIPP, for example, has opened two of nine planned for the district.

The impact of charters on LA Unified is something of an evergreen debate among board members, faced with the district’s losing revenue for every child who forsakes a traditional district school for a charter. It’s a trend with heavy ripples, as lower enrollment leads to fewer dollars, fewer dollars lead to flat wages, flat wages lead to fewer and angry teachers, and angry teachers are now talking about a strike.

But this week, the discussion of charter impact took on a slightly different tone, as board members at their meeting on Tuesday and again yesterday turned introspective, questioning themselves over how to mitigate some of the enrollment trends.

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Cortines backpedals from statement that charters get more

UPDATED*

LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines has corrected a statement he made at Tuesday’s board meeting, telling the members in an email that he erred in saying charter schools receive more in state funding than traditional public schools.

“One of the problems is the funding of charters versus regular schools. And the charters in the state get more money than the regular schools do,” he told the board. (Click on the above video to view his comments on charter funding.}

Board member Tamar Galatzan was not present during the discussion, but no other member challenged him. Monica Ratliff and George McKenna seemed to agree with him.

“He’s telling us the truth,” McKenna said. Ratliff added, “We need to discuss the impact of having different rules and different funding for traditional public schools versus our public charters.”

But Cortines took the comments back yesterday. In his email — a copy of which he sent to LA School Report  — he said: “After reflecting on statements I made last night concerning funding for charter schools and regular schools and speaking with staff to obtain clarification, it was made very clear to me that the law has changed since I last served as Superintendent. Charters do not appear to receive more funding than regular schools. Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), charters and regular schools are treated equally.”

He also asked for “budget staff to prepare a brief Informative to clear up this matter.”

Cortines served as interim superintendent for LA Unified for about six months in 2000, and as superintendent from 2009 to 2011. In October, he was named interim superintendent after the resignation of John Deasy.

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Cost to modernize every LAUSD school? Think $40 billion

Crumbling building* UPDATED

Members of an LA Unified board committee were told today that the district would need 10 times current funding to address the capital needs of all district schools.

The board’s Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee was shown a power point presentation that said the cost of capital improvements necessary to modernize every district school would exceed $40 billion.

Impossible, of course, leaving LAUSD officials an alternative approach, developing a priority list of needs. Those highest on the priority list would include schools with “failing” buildings systems and those that need improvements to insure earthquake safety.

The presentation — from Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter and Krisztina Tokes, Director of Asset Management — showed that more than a quarter of the needed spending of $4.3 billion, 26 percent, would be earmarked for buildings in “critical condition” and 21 percent for those in need of earthquake upgrades.

In the first group, the problems in need of attention are anything from replacing air conditioning systems to upgrading fire safety equipment to constructing permanent buildings in place of portables.

Hovatter said the money for the upgrades would come from the $7.8 billion in bond authority the district has, based on the $7 billon Measure Q sale and the unsold bonds remaining from measures Y and R.

“It is not exactly ‘money in the bank’ because we have not sold the bond yet and we haven’t collected taxes from our tax base to pay off the bonds, but we do have voter authority to sell the bonds as long as we fall within our debt ceiling capacity,” he told LA School Report. “We are currently projecting it will take us 10 to 15 years to sell all of the bonds we are currently authorized to sell and still be within our debt capacity limits.”

Aging but operational buildings would likely not addressed under the plan, the committee was told.


* Corrects upgrade needs to $40 billion. A previous version said $80 billion.

LAUSD invests in teacher prep, MLK Jr. Elementary at 100 years

school report buzz

At its meeting this week, the LA Unified board directed Superintendent Ramon Cortines to expand the teacher prep Career Ladder program, which helps supports district employees who want to become teachers.

The resolution opens the program by another 300 participants, beginning next July. According to statistics cited in the resolution, enrollment in teacher preparation programs across California has been declining, to fewer than 20,000 in 2012-13 from a high of 77,700 a dozen years ago. This had led to a shortage of bilingual, mathematics, science and special education teachers.

“This is how we build the next generation of teachers and of leaders, and who our teachers are matters. It is just as important to know your student as it is to know your subject and nothing, nothing is as important as shared experience,” board member Steve Zimmer, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said in a district press release.

 

State gets D+ grade in teacher prep

And speaking of teacher preparation … just as LAUSD is looking to invest in teacher prep comes a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality that gives California a D+ grade in teacher preparation.

Among the problems the “State Teacher Policy Yearbook” found is that “with no minimum GPA or test of academic proficiency required for admission to teacher preparation programs, California sets a low bar for the academic performance of the state’s prospective teachers.”

Click here to read the full report.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School celebrates 100 years

Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in Exposition Park is celebrating its 100-year anniversary today at 1:30 p.m. with an event that includes student speeches and performances, alumni presentations, attendance of former teachers and administrators and school board member George McKenna, according to a LAUSD press release

The school, formerly called Santa Barbara Avenue Elementary School, was renamed in 1984 a year after the street was also named after the famed civil rights leader.

 

LA Unified seeks volunteers for Young Men of Color initiative

LA Unified is hosting a dinner and training session for potential volunteers looking to join the district’s Young Men of Color Initiative. The event starts at 4:30 p.m. today at the auditorium in the LAUSD Parent Community Services Student Services building at 1360 West Temple St.

Another training session is scheduled for Jan. 20.

According to a district press release, volunteers will meet monthly at a local high school with younger men who need help to succeed in class, and in life. For information, call LA Unified’s Parent Community Services Branch at (213) 481-3350.

 

LAUSD lawsuit over leaked Miramonte case files continues

Mark Berndt, former LAUSD teacher

Mark Berndt, former LAUSD teacher

A judge has ruled that LA Unified’s lawsuit accusing its former chief risk officer of stealing confidential documents related to the Miramonte school sex abuse case and leaking them to the media will move forward, as it does not violate the defendant’s First Amendment rights, City News Service reported.

The lawsuit against Gregg Breed was filed in 2013, and Breed himself is also suing the district in a lawsuit, alleging that his contract was not renewed in retaliation for being a whistleblower.

The lawsuits are all connected to the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, who was convicted last year of committing 23 counts of lewd conduct upon a child and sentenced to 25 years in prison. After settling with a number of student victims for $30 million, the district in November reached a record settlement of $139 million with the remaining victims.

The lawsuits between Breed and the district stem from the cases involving the original $30 million. Breed has spoken publicly about the Miramonte case, including to NBC Los Angeles, alleging that the district paid $470,000 apiece to three students who were not actually abused by Berndt. Breed also said the case was mishandled by inexperienced lawyers who were hired as a result of LAUSD cronyism.

LAUSD charges in its suit that aside from speaking the the media, Breed leaked confidential documents related to the case. Breed’s attorneys had sought dismissal of the district’s lawsuit, arguing that he was being punished for being a whistleblower and speaking out about alleged corruption in the district, according to City News Service.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Fruin wrote in his ruling that the case is not about Breed’s public statements or his freedom of speech but the alleged theft of confidential documents that violated his contract with the district.

“It was (Breed’s) alleged theft of LAUSD documents, not his public statements or subsequent filing of a lawsuit, that forms the basis of plaintiff’s claims,”Fruin wrote in his ruling. “The gravamen of this action is defendant’s wrongful misappropriation and retention of LAUSD’s confidential student information, internal communications and attorney/client privileged or work product documents.”

Fighting teen violence in LA Unified but not spending to do it

Tamar Galatzan at Tuesday's LAUSD school board meeting

Tamar Galatzan at Tuesday’s LAUSD school board meeting

One of the more contentious moments at yesterday’s LA Unified board meeting was a debate over a resolution to “Promote Healthy Relationships and Prevent Teen Dating Violence”

No one disagreed with the intent or with asking Superintendent Ramon Cortines to deliver a report to the board early next year on how to implement such a program.

Rather, the fight arose over the projected cost: as much as $3.5 million to cover such needs as curriculum specialists, pamphlets, brochures and experts to run a pilot program.

As it appeared before the board, the item was sponsored by Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer, but Galatzan on Monday asked that her name be dropped when the cost became apparent. (It wasn’t.) She was objecting to “budgeting by resolution,” a view she strongly expressed at the board meeting before suggesting that the district seek other funding sources for the program.

Once the funding was stripped out through an amendment that passed 6-1, with Zimmer as the lone dissent, the measure passed unanimously.

The big loser? Peace Over Violence, a community group that works in schools to teach civil resolution, was listed as a potential contractor, for $550,000.

LA Unified board gets a look at financial future — it’s ugly

Ramon Cortines Dec. 9, 2014

Ramon Cortines at Tuesday’s LA Unified school board meeting

The LA Unified school board got a first look at the district’s financial future, and what members saw wasn’t pretty. Yet, it wasn’t ugly enough to stop the board from approving millions of dollars in new expenditures.

Like a town crier, Superintendent Ramon Cortines has been warning anyone willing to listen that the district is on the verge of a $300 million deficit by the 2015-16 school year. But during the eight-hour meeting yesterday, district Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly reported it’s getting even more bleak:  “We’re facing a $784.5 million deficit by 2016-17,” she told the board.

A large portion of the first shortfall — $81 million —  is due to the expiration of the state’s Quality Education Investment Act (QEIA) grants at the end of the year. The program has helped some of the district’s lowest performing schools shrink class size and hire additional teaching staff as a way to raise test scores. Although some schools are eligible to carry over a portion of this year’s cash into next, providing a temporary bandaid, Cortines said it’s hopeless to attempt to persuade the state to keep the tap open.

“That’s the reason I caution you about additional spending,” Cortines told the board. “Because we will just have to deal with that, and it means that I’m going to have to cut, consolidate or eliminate programs.”

Other factors according to Reilly: Exponential mounting contributions to employee pension funds are hurtling the district deeper into negative territory; higher than expected state revenues this year are leading to a 10 percent decrease in additional Local Control Funding Formula resources for next year.

But the biggest wallop to future budgets comes from the district’s declining enrollment problem. Reilly says the district has been steadily losing about 15,000 students a year, about 3 percent of the current total enrollment.

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LAUSD board, unions vow support on Obama’s immigration action

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl speaks at Gratts Elementary

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl speaks at Gratts Elementary (Credit: UTLA Facebook page)

The LA Unified school board and union leaders moved today to help ensure that district schools are “safe havens” in support of President Obama‘s recent executive orders on immigration.

The orders, announced last month, potentially give deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants and their children.

A resolution introduced by board members Steve Zimmer and Monica Garcia pledges that the district will develop a plan to assist any students needing help with immigration records or applications.

The district today also announced plans to send a letter home with students advising their their parents and guardians “to be cautious of ‘so-called ‘notaries’ and dishonest lawyers (who) prey on the hopes of individuals and families seeking a better life,” according to a district press release.

The letter was signed by representatives of LAUSD, SEIU Local 99 and UTLA. Before the board meeting, Garcia and Zimmer held a press conference with leaders of the two unions, according to the release.

“The President’s Executive Action will bring great relief to students and their families,” said SEIU Local 99 Lilia Garcia, according to the press release. “I work with our school community every day and I see how much it impacts students when their mother or father is deported. The children come to school with fear or sadness. The President’s action will mean more stability for families, and this will mean students can focus on their education. I am proud that our union will be working with the District to ensure that parents can access information and resources in our schools.”

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl also pledged the union’s support in the release, saying, “As educators, we care about the whole child— not only their academic achievements, but also the social and economic wellbeing of our students. We support the School Board’s resolution on immigration reform and accountability. Students and their parents need our help and we are ready to do all we can inside and outside of the classroom.”