School Board Round-Up
Hillel Aron | October 9, 2012
It was a slightly less crowded, slightly less emotionally charged LAUSD school board meeting Tuesday — at least compared to the last few, thanks largely to board member Steve Zimmer’s postponed resolutions rejecting the use of student achievement in teacher evaluations and scaling back charter school growth.
That didn’t stop the meeting from lasting more than six hours, though. Here are some of the highlights, which included an arts resolution, some charter renewals, a handful of more magnets, ratification of the deal between the Board and the administrators’ union — and an appearance from actor Cheech Marin.
Kayser’s Postpones Proposal to Charge Charter Schools for Over-Allocation Of Space
Every year, charter schools can apply for classroom space from the district. How much space they get depends on a complicated formula, and just what kind of space up for grabs is currently the subject of a lawsuit (see previous posts here). Kayser’s proposal would have penalized schools who apply for space based on a higher enrollment number than actually materializes.
LAUSD general counsel David Holmquist estimated that this year, 10 charter schools were over-allocated space, and under Kayser’s motion would have been penalized $828,000.
Corri Ravare of the CCSA argued against the proposal, saying it would unfairly penalize who schools whose drop in attendance is sometimes due to the space given to them being outside their attendance area.
“This can be resolved without a financial penalty,” she said.
Judging from the comments of the other school board members, the measure looked like it was heading for a 4-2 defeat (Dr. Richard Vladovic had to leave the meeting early). But Steve Zimmer suggested that Bennett Kayser take a page out Zimmer’s book and postpone the proposal. Kayser reluctantly accepted.
Cheech Marin Shows Up For Arts-Core Vote
A number of public speakers were on hand to talk about Nury Martinez’s motion to make arts education part of the core curriculum, including Cheech Marin, one half of the marijuana-loving duo, Cheech and Chong.
“Art makes a student whole, makes them aware of their divine nature,” said Marin. “Art is what a culture leaves behind. I can’t imagine a museum dedicated to the great business deals.”
The resolution, which will prohibit further cuts to arts education, passed unanimously.
For more, see Tami Abdollah’s KPCC blog post, LA Unified makes arts education a ‘core subject.’
Board Approves Deal With Administrators Union Regarding Evaluations
President of the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles Judith Perez spoke in favor of the deal, which will set up evaluations for principals based on a number of criteria, including Academic Growth Over Time. She took most of her time, however, to reiterate AALA’s critique of the principals’ workload, which was recently voiced in their newsletter (as we recently posted).
For more, see Howard Blume’s LA Times blog post: Principals approve new evaluations but object to workload.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher was sitting behind me, and I couldn’t help but turn around and ask him how his negotiations with the district were going.
“Hopefully,” he answered, with a bit of a shrug. “We’re meeting in good faith. We’re doing our best.”
Five New Magnets Approved
Three schools – Thomas Starr King, Washington Irving, and Sun Valley Middle Schools – will be converted to full-time magnets, while two new magnet centers were approved within Verdugo Hills High School and Venice High School. Tamar Galatzan objected to both measures, which she said the district can’t afford.
Board Approves 5-Year Memorandum of Understanding with Partnership for LA Schools
Even though the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] does nothing more than set up a review process for each individual school, board member Marguerite LaMotte expressed skepticism about the Partnership LA schools, which were set up by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“I wonder how many of us would put our kids in some of these schools,” she said. “Some of this stuff is political. I don’t want my kids to be political pawns.”
The board approved the MOU, 5-2, with LaMotte and Kayser voting against.