LA Unified board considers more money for MiSiS, classrooms, cops
Vanessa Romo | December 8, 2014
There’s another LA Unified School Board meeting tomorrow, which means there’s another round of requests for boat loads of money.
The board will consider a a $12.1 million MiSiS bailout to pay for overtime costs, additional training and staffing, third party oversight and general customer support. The money will be siphoned from bond construction funds and it won’t be the last. Superintendent Ramon Cortines expects to go back before the Bond Oversight Committee in February to ask for additional funding.
If approved, that will bring this year’s total spending on MiSiS to nearly $39 million, not including the $13.5 million it cost to develop the faulty software in the first place.
Board Member Monica Ratliff is proposing two resolutions to improve school safety by boosting the presence of adults on campus. One seeks to raise the number of grown-ups per classroom to “at least two” to keep predatory adults from abusing children. Ratliff proposes the district conduct a study of cost for such an endeavor by the next school board meeting in January.
The resolution calls for an accounting of how much the district has spent on “litigation, settlements, and awards,” a suggestion of how to pay for the additional personnel if the district can cut down on legal costs, such as the $139 million record settlement for victims of the Miramonte Elementary School child abuse case.
The more controversial of Ratliff’s proposals perhaps is an attempt to increase school police on campus in an effort to reduce crimes that occur within school hours. Several community group leaders spoke out against the measure when it first came up for consideration at last month’s meeting.
Manuel Criollo, head of Community Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates to reduce punitive measures within schools, argued that heavier police presence on campus often leads to unfair targeting of minority students and the so-called “school to prison pipeline.”
“We know that restorative justice programs are better for students,” he told LA School Report. “That’s what we should be investing in. Not more police.”
If passed, the resolution would seeking to pay for the effort through similar sources as the other resolution. It requires Superintendent Ramon Cortines to collect data “that presents annual expenses over the last five years for litigation, awards, settlements and other costs arising out of criminal actions that occurred on school campuses during school hours” and report back to the board next month.
Board Member Steve Zimmer’s “Good Food” measure is also up for a vote. If adopted the new purchasing guidelines would “support a regional food system that is ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially responsible.”
The district spends upwards of $120 million a year on feeding students but the board only renews food procurement contracts every five years.
“Of all the issues that I’ve brought to the board, this is in the top five,” Zimmer told LA School Report shortly before the resolution was introduced last month.
He continued, “It’s probably the first time that we will, with meaningful implications, say that we are going to hold ourselves to the highest standards for the ethical treatment of the people who work on the food chain from beginning to end, the humane treatment of animals, and the extent of the stomping of the environment that we do as a result of serving this many meals every day.”
Finally, 16 charter school approvals and renewals are coming before the board. Of those, the Charter School Division is recommending the denial of two: Digital Renaissance Charter Middle School and Goethe International Charter Middle School.
*Corrects the amount requested for MiSiS funding.