In Partnership with The 74

Here’s what LAUSD could buy with the $14.5 million in outside money that’s poured into the school board race

Mike Szymanski | May 15, 2017



Money spent on the campaign could pay to staff all LAUSD’s school libraries.

A year’s worth of arts education, or two textbooks for every high school student, or a crisp $20 bill for every student enrolled in every LA Unified school from early ed to high school, including at every independent public charter school.

That’s some of what LA Unified could have bought with the massive amount of outside money being spent on the school board race. It’s the largest amount ever spent on any school board campaign in U.S. history, at $14.5 million as of Monday.

“Wouldn’t it be great if we could tap into that money?” outgoing school board member Mónica Ratliff said about outside money being spent on the district, during a recent committee meeting on the underfunding of school libraries and the average age of its books (21 years old).

Campaign spending = 250 teachers.

The amount spent on the school board race, which culminates Tuesday with the runoff in districts 4 and 6, could offset the $15 million needed to upgrade every library in the school system.

That campaign cash could pay for all teacher library positions needed for the district ($9.4 million) as well as all the 40 library aide positions ($1.9 million).

Right now, school principals are weighing whether they should shutter their libraries or pay for more staff. Some principals are seeking out unique ways to generate more income so they can buy more textbooks.

Speaking of staff, the school board already knows there’s a looming teacher shortage, and the campaign money could pay for 250 new teachers (at the starting teacher salary of $50,368).

That adds up to an extra teacher for every district middle school and high school, or one for every charter school that the district oversees.

The district is facing some drastic cuts to some favorite programs. Social-emotional learning programs that have been a key part of LA Unified’s curriculum for the past 25 years are now in jeopardy for 109 schools. The price tag to restore social-emotional learning programs at every school in the district? It’s $13 million, less than what has already been spent on the campaign.

Campaign spending = 24,000 iPads, or 41,000 Chromebooks, or one year of maintaining MiSiS.

The campaign spending could pay for 7.2 million lunches, breakfasts, and dinners for students, or the total annual operating costs to maintain the school computer system, or the cost of every after-school program in the district. That amount spent on voluminous ads, much of it negative, could pay for the cost of all the necessary turf repair needed on athletic fields, or the mortgage the district pays per year on its Beaudry headquarters, or Superintendent Michelle King’s salary for the next 35 years.

It adds up to the equivalent of 24,000 iPads, or 41,000 Chromebooks, or more than a year of repairs for the aging air-conditioning system at the entire district.

So, no doubt people can find plenty of other ways to spend the campaign money to help the schools. Or, it can get two school board seats filled.

• Read more: Your voting primer to Tuesday’s LAUSD school board election

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