Parents of LAUSD children in accelerated programs asked to sign contract

AcceleratedMathAgreementIn the new school year, parents who have children in accelerated math programs at LA Unified will have to sign a “contract” acknowledging that their child must keep a B grade or better to stay in the class.

If the student doesn’t keep at least a B, there will be a parent-teacher meeting to form some plan of action. If at the end of the quarter there is no improvement, the student will be put in the regular Common Core class for that grade level.

The reason for accelerated math for some students is to prevent high achievers from being bored with the Common Core Math 6 in sixth grade that is sometimes repetitive or too rudimentary.

Accelerated math classes in middle and high schools do not skip standards but compress them into a faster learning tract, according to the memo. Three years of math, for example, will be combined into two, requiring that students learn at a faster pace.

The new requirement is included in a memo to teachers, obtained by LA School Report. It explains Common Core math standards and says, “Students who demonstrate advanced skills in mathematics may be eligible for placement into an Accelerated Mathematics Pathway beginning in grade 7, or into an Alternative Accelerated Mathematics Pathway beginning in grade 6.”

The 26-page memo also says, “Misplacement is common, with negative consequences for students when they are unable to keep pace with the incremental difficulty of mathematics content.”

The reason for the contract is to prevent parents with high-achieving students from forcing their children into classes they may not be prepared to handle. It is also to make parents aware that the Accelerated Mathematics Program is a special advanced program offered in middle school and high school that could jump a whole grade level ahead (or more) for students at the same age.

Some parents have become so upset with their children receiving C grades (or even consistent B grades) that they have taken their children out of the program, or even out of school, according to interviews with parents and teachers. Some parents also want their children to get consistent A grades in accelerated math programs to get recommendations into private high schools.

The memo was issued by Ruth Perez, Deputy Superintendent, Division of Instruction and Gerardo Loera, Chief Academy Officer. Teachers with questions were asked to contact Philip Ogbuehi or Laura Cervantes at the Mathematics Branch of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support.


School’s out!

Today is the last day of spring semester classes for LA Unified, and for thousands of students it means summer is finally here. For teachers, it also is the start of vacation, and tomorrow they will get their first fat paycheck including a long-awaited raise and backpay that is due as the result of their new contract.

For a not-so-nostalgic look back at LA Unified’s tumultuous school year, click here.

LA School Report will still be reporting all the important education and LA Unified news over the summer, as there will be plenty of important district news happening, not the least of which will be the school board debating and voting on a new budget.

Here are some key dates coming up over the summer:

June 9
LA Unified school board meeting

June 11
Budget, Facilities, Audit Committee meeting
Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Ad Hoc Committee

June 15
Summer school sessions begin

June 16
Committee of the Whole meeting
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Committee

* Two more school board meetings are likely to be scheduled to discuss budget issues in June, with the final meeting and vote expected to take place on June 23.

There will be more school board meetings, but exact dates have not yet been scheduled or posted to the LAUSD website. July will mark the beginning of a new fiscal year, as well as the swearing in of two new school board members, Ref Rodriguez and Scott Schmerelson.

August 18
Classes begin again at LA Unified for the 2015-16 school year.


Just in: LA Unified board postpones vote on graduation requirements

LAUSD board graduationIn a surprise move today, the LA Unified School Board postponed a vote on a resolution to fix the implementation of college prep graduation requirements, called A through G.

The resolution co-sponsored by board members Mónica García and Steve Zimmer was delayed after members complained that they didn’t have enough understanding of the latest amended version of the resolution and what the budget impact could be. The latest version, adding specific language about graduation requirements, was submitted and distributed to board members late yesterday. That lead several board members, including George McKenna to request more time to analyze the impact of changes.

“I just found out this morning that we had a special meeting about this,” McKenna said, clearly exasperated about the changes to the document. “And reading it is not the same as analyzing it.”

Among the changes McKenna opposed is the requirement for students to get a grade of “C” or better in all college-prep courses.

“I am opposed to the requirement of a C grade to get a diploma,” he said. “A ‘D’ is a passing grade no matter what UC or Cal State [schools] say.”

McKenna was joined in voting to postpone consideration of the measure to June by Bennett Kayser, Mónica Ratliff and board president Richard Vladovic.

“We have a crisis where 30 percent of our kids are not on track,” Vladovic said, referring to the district’s latest graduation rate projections should it adhere to the guidelines of A through G. He argued that more time would allow the district to consider allocating additional revenue to summer school programs that would help students in need.

“I need to find that money and we’re going to have to do it, so I wanted some time to do that,” he said to applause from the audience.

The board had scheduled consideration of the measure at 4:30 and several community organizations supporting the resolution had planned a rally. They estimated a crowd of about 500 would show up in support.

Pressing issues for LAUSD board: Teachers contract, graduation rates

LAUSD boardTomorrow’s LA Unified School Board meeting is shaping up to be loud and crowded as the seven members take the final step in approving a new contract with the teachers union and consider several plans to fix impending drop in graduation rates.

After years of working under an expired contract, UTLA members last week overwhelmingly approved a tentative agreement with the district that will lead to 10.4 percent raise for teachers over two years. More than 97 percent of union members, nearly 25,000, voted yes and once the board approves it, the new contract will bring teachers a boost in paychecks as early as next month.

The new deal is expected to cost the district about $633 million over three years, plus an additional $31.6 million for several labor groups with “me too” clauses, also over three years, as part of a budget that was already $140 million short, according to LA Unified officials.

But despite the victory that both sides are claiming in reaching a deal after such a long and contentious negotiations, UTLA is planning a rally outside the meeting to fight proposed program cuts and layoffs. Last month the district issued 609 layoff notices to a combination of teachers, counselors and psychologists, and several programs, including adult and early education, face severe cut backs.

Another group intent on demonstrating are supporters of a resolution — the Equity on A-G: Re-affirming Our Commitment to A-G Life Preparation for All — sponsored by Mónica García and Steve Zimmer.

The resolution is an effort to correct a situation the board created 10 years ago when it passed a new set of college-prep high school graduation requirements called A through G. While the original policy was designed to benefit all students by equalizing access to college-preparing courses, it has inadvertently created a ticking time bomb: Only a fraction of students are prepared to take the more rigorous courses by the time they reach high school, which means that by 2017, the first year the requirements will be fully implemented, the district expects to a sharp decline in the graduation rate.

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Just In: LAUSD board approves teacher deal, valued at $607 million

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outside Dorsey High School

UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl outside Dorsey High School

The 10.4 percent salary increases LA Unified has agreed to in its deal with United Teachers Los Angeles will cost the district $607 million over three years, according to an analysis Superintendent Ramon Cortines circulated to board members today.

Later, the board voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve the deal.

The final salary figure for the teachers includes $254 million above an amount the district had earlier set aside for the teachers, $353 million, and it does not include an additional $31.6 million that the district will need to pay to other labor union partners who have so called “me-too” clauses. They obligate the district to keep union pay scales on par with each other.

Those expenditures, plus the costly health benefits package approved by the board last week, “will result in two of the district’s out-years having deficit ending balances,” Cortines wrote in his memo. By the end of the 2015-16 the district expects to be $140 million short and about $419 million in the red in 2016-17 for a total deficit of $559 million.

However, Cortines said he expected Gov. Jerry Brown‘s revised budget, due next month, combined with “ending balances” for the current school year would “meet this deficit.”

“The first priority for any new undesignated funds are first to cover the terms of the health and welfare multiyear contract and then to cover the salary agreements and deficits created in the out-years by both,” he wrote. “If the May revise includes one-time funds, the out-years will likely remain in a deficit status that we will have to address accordingly.”

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Vote for all-girls high school has happy ending, for now

Girls in HSThe vote to open LA Unified’s first all-girls high school was swift and the motion was passed with no fanfare; it was one of more than two dozen resolutions lumped together, including one to open a similar all-girls charter middle school, that were approved in a single vote by the Los Angeles Unifed school board earlier this week, with virtually no discussion.

But for Elizabeth Hicks, the woman behind the proposal for the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), who has been fighting to get it open for the past three years, it was a euphoric moment.

“It’s been such a long, arduous journey and I’m just ecstatic,” she told LA School Report. “Relieved and ecstatic.”

“It’s the end of years of uncertainty,” she continued, despite the fact that it’s not a done deal yet. The California State School Board of Education must approve a waiver for the school to open in 2016-17. That board is scheduled to meet in May.

Draft after draft, tweak after tweak, Hicks, a counseling coordinator for the district, has been working on a proposal she hoped would convince the board and other district officials to finally open GALA — a science, technology, engineering, and math school, called STEM — where Hicks says that young women can flourish and develop an unabashed passion for the hard sciences without the distraction/intrusion/judgement of boys. Something she says is difficult to cultivate in co-ed schools.

“The evidence is there,” she says enthusiastically, referring to studies that reveal a sharp decline in test scores on math and science, once girls hit middle school.

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LA Unified board approves new employee health care package

Monica-RatliffThe LA Unified school board yesterday approved a health care package of benefits for its unions that will increase the district’s contributions to the plan to $1.23 billion over the next three years. without requiring an analysis of the long-term effects of additional costs, including the possibility of bankruptcy.

Board member Monica Ratliff tried to require that the proposal, from Superintendent Ramon Cortines, include additional information before the board votes on a new budget in June. But the effort failed by a 5-2 vote after a heated discussion that was largely led by Tamar Galatzan and President Richard Vladovic, supporters of the measure who are up for re-election next month.

“The public should have this information before the budget is approved,” Ratliff told the board, calling it a “reasonable request.”

She even offered to pay an outside firm to conduct the study using her own office’s discretionary funds, adding, “We cannot continue to spend large sums of money without a thorough understanding of the future …There’s a point, it exists, where we are not fiscally viable.”

Ultimately, Ratliff, a former teachers union chapter chair, was the lone vote against the health care package saying, “I’m going to vote no on this. And I’m going to continue to vote no on large monetary expenditures because I think we are going toward a cliff.”

The plan keeps benefits and premiums unchanged for the district’s 225,000 covered employees, retirees, and their eligible dependents as the price tag for the district goes up. By the end of 2015 the district expects to spend $1.029 billion, increasing to $1.233 in 2018.

Ratliff asked for a 10-year impact analysis detailing outcomes in several worst-case scenarios, including the effects of bankruptcy, on the district’s retirees and employees.

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‘Temporary’ portable classrooms a permanent headache for LAUSD

LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter

LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter

Despite spending billions of dollars since 2003 to build new campuses, LA Unified still uses thousands of “portable” or temporary classrooms, and a recent presentation by the district’s Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter made it clear they have become a permanent headache for the district.

Despite recent reduction efforts, the district still uses roughly 8,300 portables, which represents about 30 percent of all available classroom space in LA Unified, and there is no current plan or available money to discontinue their use.

In fact, Hovatter told the school board’s Budget, Facilities, Audit Committee last week, there are 58 portables that the district is required to remove by Sept. 30 that don’t meet current standards but available funding only covers about 88 percent of the work that needs to be done.

Anyone who has spent time around LA Unified campuses won’t have to ask too many questions about what a “portable” classroom is. The temporary structures — sometimes referred to as bungalows or trailers — dot the landscapes of many schools, taking up the lion’s share of what was once a parking lot, playground or green space.

According to Hovatter, as the district’s student population expanded in through the 1990s while no new campuses were built, the use of portables became widespread and grew to around 10,000 in 2003. Reduction efforts have only resulted in a “bite” out of the number of portables in use, he said.

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Stoner parents challenging LAUSD for extending co-location deadline

icef public schools logoYet again, LA Unified finds itself in the soup because of a computer malfunction.

Friends of Stoner, a group fighting to block the co-location of another charter school at Stoner Avenue Elementary in Palms, has met with lawyers to discuss legal options against LA Unified for extending the application deadline by three days.

Frustrated Stoner parents, opposed to sharing the campus with nearby ICEF Vista Elementary Academy, contend that the district does not have authority to change the state-set Nov 1 deadline without permission from the Department of Education, which it appears district officials did not solicit.

The district prolonged the submission window for charter schools seeking classroom space on traditional public school campuses after the online application program went down on the day applications were due. This is the second year the district has accepted electronic applications.

“The deadline is the deadline and you can’t arbitrarily change it by three days not for ICEF and not for anyone,” Adam Benitez, president of the group told LA School Report. “What authority do they have to supersede state regulations? “

“The district is basically saying, regulations be damned, we’re going to do whatever we want!” Benitez said. He said the group has already contacted the office of the state Attorney General and is awaiting a response.

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With 2 votes, LA Unified board moves beyond usual boundaries

George McKenna LA UnifiedLA Unified lawyers will start taking on student deportation cases on a pro-bono and volunteer basis, making it the first school district in the country to represent immigrant children.

Under the new legal program called AYUDA — that’s Spanish for “help” — district lawyers will provide legal aid to a small number of unaccompanied minors at their deportation proceedings, beginning in April. The cases will be pre-screened by outside organizations with expertise in immigration law and will not interfere with the day-to-day duties of the district’s attorneys.

Approval of that program and a resolution involving farm workers in the Central Valley, highlighting an otherwise routine board meeting yesterday, demonstrated the members’ eagerness to assume a more holistic approach to issues affecting students and families even if it has no direct bearing on improving standardized test scores, closing the achievement gap or boosting high school graduation rates.

Nonetheless, the district made clear that it was not hesitant to step in policy areas generally left to other government agencies when the issues intersect with the lives of those living within its boundaries.

But concerns were raised, as well, prior to each vote of approval. Board member George McKenna was especially eloquent, asking where to draw the line when opportunities present themselves to aid students and their families. While expressing support for the immigration help, he wondered it the district were over stepping its responsibility to students, setting an untenable precedent.

“There have been numerous times in the past when our children and their families have needed support and this is the first time I have heard of this district representing itself as being the respondent to legal services pro-bono,” he told the board.

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LA Unified board has pro-bono work, food on its meeting plate

after school supper program LAUSD* UPDATED

Why put off until tomorrow . . .well, you get the idea.

In the case of the LA Unified school board, the answer is that sometimes you don’t have the votes. Which is exactly what happened last month on a resolution to allow district lawyers to work pro-bono on student deportation cases through a program called AYUDA.

What initially seemed like a slam dunk, do-gooder proposal, was quickly derailed by questions regarding exactly how the volunteer program would work. So rather than take a vote, the board put it off to tomorrow’s monthly meeting. But it’s unclear if the resolution has picked up any support from resistant board members in the intervening weeks.

The LA Times Editorial board weighed in on the issue late last week, advising the board to take a hard pass, writing, “To set itself up as a de facto immigration legal service constitutes a troubling level of mission creep…Better for L.A. Unified to let lawyers decide what kind of pro bono work they want to do instead of making value decisions about which ones it will allow.”

Board member Steve Zimmer and President Richard Vladovic are bringing back a food contract they want to see suspended because they say the company is not in compliance with the state’s Fair Labor Practices for agricultural vendors.

They contend in their resolution that Gerawan Farming, one of the country’s largest suppliers of peaches, plums and other fruit, is under consideration for new contacts but according to lawyers for the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board it has cheated employees of “many millions of dollars they are owed” and refused to sign a new union contract issued by the ALRB.

Dan Gerawan told LA School Report today that the district has portrayed the situation incorrectly. He said his company currently has no contracts with LA Unified nor is seeking any. He also said his company has not been found to have violated any rules or regulations regarding its relationship with workers and the district’s resolution is being driven by the United Farm Workers, a union he insisted his employees do not want.

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LA Unified seeking new CIO, knowledge of MiSiS helps

Help-WantedHelp wanted: LA Unified is seeking a new Chief Information Officer to fill the post previously held by Ron Chandler, who resigned in October under intense pressure following the disastrous rollout of MISIS.

All you have to be is “a dynamic, results oriented technology leader with an exceptional background to lead our Information Technology Division.”

And all you have to do is straighten out the MiSiS mess, more or less.

According to a district press release this week, the ideal candidate will “be a forward-looking leader capable of influencing and galvanizing others in a shared view of the future.”  Applicants should have experience in large public, private, government, or non-profit organizations, while experience in public education is “a plus.”

What’s less clear is whether the new CIO will report to Chief Strategy Officer Matt Hill or vice versa. About a month ago, Hill was put in charge of overseeing the Information Technology Department under a wide spread restructuring of the district’s top level management by Superintendent Ramon Cortines.

The district didn’t return a message seeking clarification.

How much does the vacant post it pay? Well, it’s not chump change: It tops out at $223,186, which is about five times what a school board member makes.

Click here to apply and lotsa luck.

LA Unified deficit recedes, but enrollment drop portends trouble

Megan Reilly

LAUSD CFO Megan Reilly

It turns out LA Unified’s money woes aren’t so bad — for now, anyway.

Shortly before the end of the calendar year, Superintendent Ramon Cortines and other district officials were forecasting a deficit of $320 million, sometimes closer to $350 million. But that was before Governor Jerry Brown proposed his new budget.

Now, the district’s revised estimated shortfall is a quarter of the original — about $88 million.

Megan Reilly, Chief Financial Officer for the district, told school board members yesterday much of the difference is being made up by an increase of $240 million in Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) revenue, which aims to return district funding to 2007-08 levels.

“LCFF makes up 76 percent of our total general fund,” she said.

That means per pupil funding next year will go up to $9,322 from $8,403 this year. Still, that falls far below the goal of just over $11,000 per student. And it leaves the district 18 percent shy of the overall budget target.

“And remember, having a target or meeting the target is not the same thing as having adequacy,” Reilly said.

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Deasy to work for Broad Center as ‘superintendent-in-residence’


Former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy

Former LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy will be working as a consultant for The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems as a “superintendent-in-residence.” The center is a leadership academy for school administrators, which is funded by Eli Broad, a longtime Deasy supporter and powerful financier of California education reform efforts.

Deasy resigned in October under pressure due to mounting criticism of his managerial style and several bungled technology initiatives. Since resigning, criticism of his three-and-a-half year tenure has continued, in particular since the FBI seized files in December related to his $1.3 billion iPad program as part of a federal grand jury investigation. Deasy continued to be paid by the district through December.

Deasy’s role with the Broad Center was announced in a press release on its website and was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

The center’s mission is to “raise student achievement by recruiting, training and supporting leadership talent from across America to transform urban school systems,” according to its website.

However, the Broad Center and related Broad Academy are viewed with great skepticism by some in California education. As the Times pointed out, the academy “is regarded with suspicion by some, especially union activists, who have long speculated that Broad wanted leaders better trained to outmaneuver and weaken unions representing school employees, especially the teachers union.”

The Broad Center’s press release announcing his new role touted Deasy’s accomplishments.

“John Deasy’s long history of boosting opportunity and achievement for all kids is a testimony to his relentless drive for social justice and fundamental belief in what’s possible when school systems are organized around what is best for students,” said Christina Heitz, managing director of The Broad Academy, in the press release.

Deasy oversaw a rise in graduation rates and student test scores along with a fall in dropout rates during his tenure at LA Unified. It’s unclear whether he would be held accountable by the federal grand jury investigation into possible bid rigging with the iPad program, which sought to put an iPad in the hands of every LA Unified student and teacher.

Federal grand jury proceedings are secret, but the files seized in October were related to the program’s procurement process, for which Deasy was criticized for the perception that he may have tilted the bid in favor of Apple and Pearson, the company that provided educational software for the iPads.

Deasy halted the program in August when emails were publicly released showing a high level of communication Deasy and a former deputy had with Apple and Pearson.


LA Unified board to considering helping fight off deportation

(Photo: Immigration and Customs Enforcement website)

(Photo: Immigration and Customs Enforcement website)

LA Unified doesn’t track how many undocumented students are enrolled in the district, but a new resolution could pave the way for providing legal aid to a small number of unaccompanied minors at their deportation proceedings.

The school board will vote tomorrow to approve a program called AYUDA – Advocating for Youth Unaccompanied in Deportation Actions. If passed upon request from the district’s legal department, the measure would authorize LA Unified attorneys to handle a limited number of deportation cases for unaccompanied minors residing within district boundaries, on a pro bono basis.

“Only some attorneys, those who want to, will be taking on these cases,” Monica Carazo, a district spokesperson told LA School Report.

District lawyers will have the chance to volunteer for the assignments, working an average of two to three hours per week on individual cases, she said.

“It’s going to be a small, manageable amount of time for each attorney, and it won’t interfere with their regular work load,” she added.

At most, the district will represent five to ten students, according to Carazo. Few, if any, of the district’s lawyers have a background in immigration law, so they’ll be getting extra assistance from local legal organizations.

Currently, there are more than 900,000 undocumented students who live in the United States and are under 18 years of age.

LA Unified is not the first agency to offer unaccompanied minors legal help. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors plans to set aside more than $2 million for legal aid for minors and families over the next two years. And Governor Jerry Brown, last year, introduced a bill aimed at allocating $3 million in legal aid for unaccompanied children.

Ex-LAUSD board president Young taking over Magnolia charters

Caprice Young

Caprice Young


Magnolia Public Schools, which has fought bitterly with the LA Unified school board to keep several of its schools open, has turned to an old LAUSD hand to take over its leadership.

Caprice Young, a long-time education reform advocate and former school board president has been named Magnolia’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Young confirmed her appointment in a text message to LA School Report.

Young served four years on the LA Unified school board, from 1999 to 2003, and worked closely with then superintendent Roy Romer in helping the district make gains in student achievement and in launching an ambitious program of school facilities renewal. She served as board president in her last two years.

During her first year on the board, Young and her colleagues launched a complete overhaul of the district’s organizational structure.

Young plans to continuing working part-time through April in her current post as President of the National Charter Resource Center. Then, she intends to start full-time with Magnolia, which operates 11 schools across the state. Many of them have been subject to recent scrutiny over management practices.

But her resume could serve as a chronology of the education reform movement, making her an ideal choice to lead the group. After leaving the district, she founded the California Charter Schools Association and served as its first president. It has grown to become one of nation’s most powerful state associations and accelerated the growth of charter schools throughout the state.

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‘Good Food’ resolution may be bad news for some food companies


With the passing of the LA Unified school board’s “Good Food” resolution in December, a number of giant vendors the district does business with will be forced to change their practices or lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts.

Tyson Foods in particular, which supplies much of the district’s chicken in a five-year $754 million contract with eight other major food companies, is not currently in a position to meet the district’s new standards for antibiotic-free chicken, according to a report by Reuters. A new five-year chicken contract, along with beef and other items, is scheduled to be negotiated by the school board this spring.

“The effects of this could be quite far reaching. We do intend to use the contracting process to leverage important changes in the large agricultural industry,” said LA Unified board member Steve Zimmer, who co-sponsored the resolution along with Bennett Kayser and Richard Vladovic.

The Good Food resolution partners LA Unified with five other districts — New York, Dallas, Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County — as part of the Urban School Food Alliance. Alliance members will use their purchasing power together to “drive quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices,” according to its website.

Aside from antibiotic-free chicken, the Good Food resolution requires the district to emphasize certain priorities when negotiating food contracts with vendors, including finding locally-sourced food that offers “generous portions of vegetables, fruit, and whole grains; reducing salt, added sugars, fats, and oils; and by eliminating artificial additives.” It also calls for using vendors that meet certain environmental standards and are proven to provide a safe environment for workers and a cruelty-free environment for livestock.

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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.”

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.