LAUSD board solves dilemma: Pay debts before saving for a rainy day

MeganReilly.27.39 PMIn what seemed to be a routine agenda item last night, the LA Unified school board found itself debating a fundamental issue: When you have a few extra bucks do you save for a rainy day or do you pay off your debts right away?

The question arose when the board was trying to figure out what to do with the surplus of $45 million from last year. That’s merely pocket change when it comes to a $7.8 billion annual budget, but it brought up some philosophical differences among the board members.

Board member Mónica Ratliff, who prides herself on championing fiscal responsibility, asked where the money was going to go and when it was going there. She urged that the money be added to an irrevocable trust for LAUSD retiree health benefits.

But, board member Richard Vladovic, who recalled a time school budgets were far more unpredictable, said he would prefer to have the money remain more flexible for a possible catastrophe. He argued to keep the money in reserve for emergencies. Board president Steve Zimmer agreed, citing four fiscal challenges the district is now facing: state funding unpredictability, federal under-funding, debt liabilities and a declining enrollment.

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A day of pomp, circumstance and politics awaiting new LAUSD board

New LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff is sworn into office by her mother Yolanda Asenjo Padilla Ratliff at Monday's school board meeting.   Photo by David Crane/Staff Photographer

LAUSD school board member Monica Ratliff is sworn into office by her mother in 2013

Get ready for some pomp, circumstance — and politics.

The first half of tomorrow’s LA Unified school board meeting, starting at 10 am, will be a swearing in ceremony for four newly elected board members by people or, in some cases, groups of people, of their choice.

Scott Schmerelson, Ref Rodriguez, George McKenna and Richard Vladovic — will be taking an oath, each committing the next five years to the district.

Voters recently approved a measure to align school board elections with other statewide races in order to boost voter turn out. That means the four board members will sit on the board until 2020.


The ceremony and brief reception afterward are taking place at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center Gymnasium, just a few blocks from LA Unified headquarters.

Following the festivities, the full board will convene at 1 pm for the first meeting of the new fiscal year to elect a new president, a process that in recent years has not provoked much public debate but this year may prove to be different. A lot different.

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Does Vladovic get a third term leading LAUSD board? Ask Vladovic

Richard VladovicOK, so let’s play this out.

One of the Mónicas — Ratliff or García, or maybe both — offers a resolution next week waiving the rule that sets term limits at two, enabling Richard Vladovic to serve a third one-year term as the LA Unified board president.

The effort needs four votes to pass. How do the members vote? Here’s a guess:

Mónica García:  Already indicating she’s in favor of a one-year suspension of current rules, she votes yes.

Mónica Ratliff: Ditto.

Newly-elected Ref Rodriguez: He votes for it. Why? The last person he wants as board president is Steve Zimmer, the current vice president. Zimmer trashed Rodriguez for standing by as Rodriguez surrogates trashed Bennett Kayser in the election campaign.

Newly-elected Scott Schmerelson: He favors term limits so he’s a no vote.

George McKenna: On Tuesday, he voted against Ratliff’s resolution to waive the rule, so he’s a no. Unless he flips.

Zimmer: No.

That makes it 3-3, with Vladovic’s vote decisive.

Vladovic voted for term limits in 2013. On Tuesday, he abstained (along with Kayser), leaving Ratliff’s effort one vote short of passing. Does he abstain again, thereby assuring that the gavel passes into new hands? 

It comes down to how badly he wants to serve another year as president. It also comes down to how active a role he wants in the search process for who succeeds Ray Cortines as the next superintendent.

Vladovic has become much more assertive in recent months as board president. He’s appeared more energized and engaged.

If he votes no or abstains, he would appear consistent to his position, respectful of the board rules as they are, and the board will have a new president.

A yes vote would require an explanation.

The members vote in alphabetical order. If this speculation holds, it would be 3-2 in favor of the one-year waiver when it’s Vladovic’s turn, which means Zimmer will know the outcome before it’s his.

Vladovic has widest margin of victory among three board elections

Richard VladovicRichard Vladovic, who is completing his second and final term as LA Unified board president, won by the widest margin of the three board elections last week, according to a final accounting by the Los Angeles City Clerk, released today.

His margin of victory over his District 7 challenger, Lydia Gutierrez, was 12.57 percent.

In District 3, challenger Scott Schmerelson beat two-term incumbent Tamar Galatzan by 9.53 percent of the vote, and in District 5, challenger Ref Rodriguez ousted one-term incumbent Bennett Kayser by 6.69 percent.

Overall, only 8.57 of the 841,643 registered voters cast a ballot, the clerk said.




Analysis: For the LAUSD board, changes in faces but not balance

Bennett Kayser LAUSD* UPDATED

Voters wanted change, but the changes came from opposite directions.

For the first time since 2009, two seats on the LA Unified school board turned over at the same time in elections yesterday that proved once again how little Angelinos care about the people setting policy for the 643,000 kids attending city public schools.

Two incumbents lost — Tamar Galatzan in District 3 and Bennett Kayser in District 5. But each winner hews more closely to the views of the incumbent who lost in the other race, making the day’s results a political wash.

Scott Schmerelson, the primary runner-up who won with 55 percent of the vote to beat Galatzan, is a career LAUSD school administrator who had heavy backing of the teachers union, UTLA

Ref Rodriguez, the primary winner who won with 54 percent of the vote to beat Kayser, is a charter school co-founder who had heavy backing from the state’s charter schools association and other reform interests.

The charters did everything they could to defeat Schmerelson. The teachers union did everything it could to defeat Rodriguez.

Where that leaves the board in terms of ideology is probably not much different than where it was on Monday, with Schmerelson replacing Kayser as the pro-union member and Rodriguez replacing Galatzan as the pro-reform member.

At the very least, the results brought the board its only Republican, in Schmerelson, and its only openly gay member, in Rodriguez.

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Vladovic breezes to a third term with largest margin of board races

LAUSD school board President Richard Vladovic

LAUSD school board President Richard Vladovic

LA Unified Board President Richard Vladovic successfully held his District 7 seat last night, winning a third term by the largest margin of the day’s three elections in a race with the lowest turn out.

He won with 56 percent of the vote to Lydia Gutierrez’s 44 percent.

Mike Trujillo, a campaign consultant to Vladovic, told LA School Report, that Vladovic’s appeal lies in his ability to strike the right balance on a range of issues.

“Dr. Vladovic’s educational career has always been about putting students, parents and teachers first, Trujillo saids. “His political career is much like that of Goldilocks where the porridge is never too hot, never too cold, always just right.”

Apparently, the mix also appealed to political action committees on the reform and union sides.  Vladovic was the only candidate in all three of the races to receive endorsements from pro-charter advocates, including the California Charters Schools Association PAC and labor groups UTLA and SEIU.

Gutierrez had no major endorsements and little campaign money throughout the election.

Despite that she made an impressive splash in the March primary race finishing only five percentage points behind Vladovic. And as recently as April, an internal poll of District 7 voters by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and Great Public Schools: Los Angeles, showed Gutierrez, leading by 37 percent to 34 percent, with 29 percent undecided, in a statistical tie. The margin of error was 4.9 percent.

Last night’s defeat marks her fifth failed bid for public office since 2008. In her most recent before now, she came in third in a run for state superintendent last year against Tom Torlakson and Marshall Tuck.

Vladovic was first elected to the board in 2007 and became president in 2013. Over most of that time the board slashed billions from the district budget.

But with more than $700 million in extra revenue coming in next year, he says he wants now to focus on leading the district into more prosperous and efficient times through priorities that include proper distribution of money to schools that need it most, a MiSiS system that works, a teacher evaluation system that’s fair and a better use of best practices districtwide.

Gutierrez demands retraction of flyers calling her ‘extremist’

Lydia Gutierrez

Lydia Gutierrez

Things are getting nasty in what had been a relatively quiet and peaceful race for the LA Unified school board seat in District 7.

Candidate Lydia Gutierrez, who is challenging incumbent and board President Richard Vladovic, responded sharply to several campaign flyers circulated by the political action committee for SEIU Local 99, a union of school workers that is supporting Vladovic.

The flyers attack Gutierrez for some of her political views that are associated with Tea Party Republicans. (See the flyers here and here.

She said in a statement the flyers include “outrageous statements that have nothing to do with the educational welfare of our children.”

Gutierrez, a school teacher at Long Beach Unified who has never held political office before, made a name for herself in the fall when she finished third in race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction and received nearly a million votes. Many of her voters were Tea Party backers.

The flyers accuse her of holding “extremist” views, describing her as someone who favors banning teaching the theory of evolution, opposes gay marriage and opposes abortion for any reason.

In a response, Gutierrez did not address issues individually but suggested that all of her views do not align with the flyers although the views do align with conservative positions. Gutierrez has expressed support of teaching creationism in the past. She also said in her statement, “Every child has the right to pray on school campuses and every parent has the right to bring up their children with their own family values according to their beliefs—this should be respected, not denigrated or ridiculed.”

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More tepid support for Vladovic; Student art at downtown library

school report buzzMake it not one, but two extraordinarily unenthusiastic endorsements from a major Los Angeles newspaper for LA Unified board President Richard Vladovic.

Following the Los Angeles Times tepid endorsement of Vladovic over his challenger, Lydia Gutierrez, the Los Angeles Daily News today also picked Vladovic over Gutierrez with an equally unenthusiastic thumbs up.

Vladovic has a “bad reputation” with colleagues and “makes too little effort to engage the press and public,” the Daily News’ editorial board wrote, before saying that it “recommend(s) a vote for Vladovic, without enthusiasm.”

This comes after the Times said that Gutierrez is a “weak candidate who lacks the necessary grasp of the district’s major issues. So Vladovic it is.”

Vladovic, who according to some polling data was trailing Gutierrez recently, must be asking himself, ‘With friends like these who needs enemies?’ And some readers might be wondering, ‘With such unenthusiastic support, why offer an endorsement at all?’

Milken Institute Global Conference takes on education

The Milken Institute Global Conference — a gathering of 3,500 leaders from around the world in the areas of politics, science, technology and business — took place this week in Los Angeles, and the event featured several panels discussing topics that are frequent issues at LA Unified.

Earlier this week we posted about a discussion of the future of digital technology in the classroom, but there are a few other videos worth taking a look at. One examines  the issue of school reform, and the other about how to increase graduation rates for low-income students. Check out a link to the graduation discussion below.

Student artwork at Central Library 

Artwork by LA Unified students will be displayed in the  Los Angeles Central Library’s atrium, beginning tomorrow and remaining through May 22. 

According the district, the artwork will feature “prints of original paintings, sculptures, drawings, graphic designs, and media arts. It’s part of the continuing ‘Let’s Celebrate!’ series sponsored by L.A. Unified’s Arts Education Branch.”

An opening reception also will be held from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m tomorrow, featuring some of the student artists.

Gutierrez turns a pro-Vladovic campaign letter against him

Lydia Gutierrez Vladovic

Lydia Gutierrez

Lydia Gutierrez, a teacher from Long Beach Unified who is mounting a vigorous campaign in LA Unified’s District 7 to unseat board President Richard Vladovic in the May 19 elections, is turning a campaign message for Vladovic against him.

A letter supporting Vladovic’s election circulated to voters this month and paid for by the teachers union political action committee, argues, “We need to provide the parents, educators and community a stronger voice so that we don’t have a rerun of the iPad fiasco.”

Gutierrez responded with a press release yesterday, pinning the “iPad disaster” squarely on Vladovic. She reminds voters that the FBI and now the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into various aspects of the program, which rolled out with support of the entire board. Vladovic has served on the board since 2007 and as president since 2013. 

“It was Vladovic’s responsibility to obey the law and use your tax dollars wisely,” she says in the release. “As president, he set the agenda and voted twice for what turned out to be a billion-dollar failure.”

The iPad program was originally designed as a $1 billion effort to get a digital device in the hands of every LA Unified student and teacher as a tool for instruction. It went bust as glitches and problems plagued it from the beginning. Superintendent Ramon Cortines finally ended it early this year as unsustainable.

It has endured, however, as a campaign issue in at least two of the three board races, as Vladovic and Tamar Galatzan in District 3 have been criticized for their support of it.

Gutierrez’s press release was off-base on a few other things, however. Her contention that the FBI “discovered that buying iPads with bond money may have been a violation of federal law” is wrong on two counts: The FBI has not announced it has discovered anything, and the agency’s interest was not the use of bond money but the procurement process as it related to the district’s relations with Apple and Pearson.

Despite Vladovic’s winning the support of the teachers union and the state charter schools association, Gutierrez has waged an aggressive campaign against him. One internal poll last month conducted by the charters and another group found that she was leading Vladovic though the difference was within the margin of error.

Private internal poll showing Gutierrez slightly ahead of Vladovic

Lydia Gutierrez

Lydia Gutierrez

LA Unified board President Richard Vladovic appears to be in the political fight of his life.

A recent internal poll of District 7 voters by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates and Great Public Schools: Los Angeles, which the groups shared with LA School Report, showed his challenger, Lydia Gutierrez, leading by 37 percent to 34 percent, with 29 percent undecided, in a statistical tie. The margin of error was 4.9 percent.

“A shocker,” said Dan Chang, executive director of Great Public Schools, which has endorsed Vladovic along with the charter group and the teachers union, UTLA.

Vladovic, who is running for a third term in the May 19 runoff election, has been board president since 2013. Four years ago, he breezed to reelection with 63 percent of the primary vote, and this time, he is the rare candidate — maybe the only candidate — to run for the school board with the backing of both the teachers union and the charter schools. (The teachers did not endorse him in the primary.)

“Dr. Vladovic has always run an aggressive campaign and this election will be no different,” said his campaign consultant, Mike Trujillo. “Putting students, parents and teachers first has been the hallmark of this former teacher, principal and now school board member.”

Yet Vladovic now finds himself in a tight race that proves party affiliation has little bearing on a school board election: Gutierrez, a Republican, is seeking her first victory in her fifth run for public office since 2008 — and she’s running strong in a district where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 4-to-1. In the primary, she finished only 5 percentage points behind Vladovic, who is a Democrat.

Gutierrez declined to answer a series of questions from LA School Report, seeking her reaction to the poll and comment on various positions that reflect her social positions, including her support for teaching creationism as an alternative theory to evolution.

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Vladovic lashes out at Gutierrez over position on vaccinations

Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

A skirmish has broken out between LA Unified board President Richard Vladovic and Lydia Gutierrez, his opponent in the May 19 runoff election for District 7, over the issue of vaccinations for students.

In response to Gutierrez’s opposition to a state senate bill that would bar parents from opting out of vaccinations for their children, Vladovic yesterday accused her of “knowingly and willingly” endangering the lives of LA Unified students.

“Ms. Gutierrez, there is plenty of room for differences of opinion on the School Board, but there is no room for policies that put our children at risk,” he told her in a letter, a copy of which was given to LA School Report. “Your position is not only extreme, it is dangerous. I urge you to revise your position — for the sake of the over six hundred thousand LAUSD students that would be affected should an outbreak occur.”

Gutierrez responded on her Facebook page, accusing Vladovic of “misrepresenting” her position.

“Vaccinations are important to the lives of children and their parents. My belief is ‘only’ that children are checked for allergic reactions prior to receiving any vaccinations. I personally had an allergic reaction to a chemical I ingested which I had to learn to walk again with permanent nerve damage. Vladovic should spend more time finding money to give teachers a raise since they haven’t received one in 8 years, instead of wasting time misquoting my viewpoint.”

Her comment has drawn more than 160 “Likes.”

An email message sent to Gutierrez for further comment went unanswered.

The conflict arose after a state Senate committee on Wednesday voted 6-2 in support of a bill that effectively makes vaccinations mandatory, removing an exemption that allows parents to send children to school without the shots, based on their personal beliefs.

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Teachers union joins state charter group in endorsing Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

LA Unified school board President Richard Vladovic

The LA teachers union, UTLA, has decided to endorse LA Unified school board President Richard Vladovic in his reelection bid for the District 7 board seat.

While it’s his third run for the seat, it’s the first time the teachers are throwing support his way, making him that rare candidate who has won the endorsements of both UTLA and the California Charter Schools Association.

“I am honored to have the support of teachers in Los Angeles,” Vladovic said on his campaign website. “I will continue to fight to ensure that school employees and students feel empowered so together we can continue to provide a strong education for a better Los Angeles.”

UTLA did not respond to messages seeking comment, leaving open the question of whether the union will spend on Vladovic’s behalf.

The District 7 race is one of three on the May 19 runoff ballot involving the school board. Two other incumbents are defending their seats — Tamar Galatzan in District 3 and Bennett Kayser in District 5. Galatzan won her primary and will face Scott Schmerelson in the runoff, and Kayser advanced by finishing second to Ref Rodriguez.

Vladovic, who has served as president since 2013, moved into the runoff by narrowly defeating Lydia Gutierrez, 42.6 percent to 37.6. He won the endorsement of the charter group but not UTLA.

Given the margin of victory, the union’s support might come in handy in the runoff.

Gutierrez, a former teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District, is a Republican who won nearly 1 million votes statewide last year in challenging Tom Torlakson for State Superintendent for Education. With backing from the charter group in the primary, Vladovic beat her by only 657 votes among 13,086 cast.

Success in his first runs for board came with less uncertainty. In 2007, he won in the general election with 54.2 percent of the vote. Four years later he won reelection with an outright victory in the primary, with 63.1 percent of the vote.

UTLA and the charter group waged a million dollar spending war in this year’s primary, largely focused on District 5, with UTLA supporting Kayser and the charters helping Rodriguez.

The charters also spent to aide Galatzan. After sitting out the primary, UTLA is backing Schmerelson in the runoff.

Teachers union makes no commit for endorsement in Vladovic race

District 7 debate

The candidates at the LA Unified District 7 forum

A meeting yesterday of UTLA’s political action committee, PACE, concluded with no decision to endorse LA Unified School Board President Richard Vladovic or his opponent, Lydia Gutierrez.

Vladovic was forced into May runoff against Gutierrez, a veteran educator who is anti-Common Core, pro-Vergara and Republican. It was an unusually close race for Vladovic after serving two terms on the board and more than a year as its president. The union did not endorse Vladovic in either of his previous runs for the board.

In previous races for other elected positions, Gutierrez has had strong support from conservative Christians and Republicans. On one conservative website she was commended for opposing public funding of abortion and supporting teaching intelligent design as an alternative to the theory of evolution. Her vehement opposition to Common Core has also won her support among Tea Party conservatives.

According to an official familiar with events at the PACE meeting, the subject of Vladovic’s endorsement “never came up.”

But “it’s possible it will come up at the House of Representatives meeting” on March 25, the official said. Many LA Unified teachers have campaigned independently on Vladovic’s behalf.

PACE is recommending that the union endorse Scott Schmerelson, a long-time LA Unified principal and administrator who is also a Republican. Although school board elections are non-partisan, the union’s support for a Republican comes as Republican governors around the country are supporting policies that weaken unions and their collective bargaining rights.

The teachers union endorsed incumbent Bennett Kayser in the primary race for District 5 against charter school founder, Ref Rodriguez, and spent about $450,000 in getting him through the primary.

3 LA Unified board incumbents heading into May runoffs

heading to a runoff


LA Unified’s election season moved into runoffs last night with no candidate in the three contested races winning a majority of votes for a board seat and the 5 1/2 year term that voters approved yesterday.

A low turnout of 8.2 percent sent three incumbents — Tamar Galatzan in District 3, Bennett Kayser in 5 and board President Richard Vladovic in 7 — into the May 19 general elections and gave two of them, Galatzan and Vladovic, Republican opponents.

George McKenna, running unopposed, won the District 1 seat.

Galatzan and Vladovic finished first in their races as expected. But it was a victory by Ref Rodriguez, a charter school executive, over Kayser that raised eyebrows the highest last night and made it a big night for the California Charter Schools Association.

In his first run for public office, Rodriguez won 38.6 percent of the vote to Kayser’s 35.8, assuring another 11 weeks of the proxy war between the charter association and the teachers union, UTLA, for greater control of the seven-member board.

“We are going to change LAUSD for the better,” Rodriguez said in a statement this morning. “Our children deserve high quality schools, and we are on our way to achieving that. I am very proud of the campaign we are running, and I’m looking forward to fighting and winning the general election.

The charter group worked mightily to deny Kayser a second term, spending almost $600,000 (through last month) for campaign material, including harsh attacks that suggested Kayser was a racist.

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District 7: LAUSD school board race snapshot

LAUSD District 7 map

School board District 7, runs up a narrow swath from San Pedro at its southern tip to South LA as its northern boundary (see map here).
On the way, it encompasses parts of Wilmington, Harbor City, Carson, Harbor Gateway, Lomita, Gardena, Florence, and Watts, and is home to some of LA Unified’s historically troubled high schools including Fremont High, and Jordon High, which have undergone recent massive restructurings, and Locke High School, which underwent a major turnaround 2008. The district also includes some of the highest performing schools in LAUSD, including highly-ranked Harbor Teachers Prep Academy and many of the city’s highly-effective charter schools. In all there are 99 elementary schools, 36 middle schools and 54 high schools in LAUSD’s District 7. (See list here). Three candidates are vying for this seat.


Richard VladovicRichard Vladovic (Incumbent)

A veteran educator, Richard Vladovic is a former social studies teacher, principal and Superintendent of West Covina Unified School District with two terms under his belt on the LAUSD school board. He was first elected to the school board in 2007 with the help of then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. While he maintains strong ties with reform-minded players he won the support of board members allied with the teachers union to ascend to the position of school board president replacing reform advocate Monica Garcia 18 months ago.

Organization endorsements: SEIU-99, CA Charter School Advocates, AALA, LA Times
Cash Raised: $96,764 [reporting as of 2/14]
SuperPAC $: $82,977 [reporting as of 2/14]
Age: 70
Education: B.A. Los Angeles Harbor College; M.S., Pepperdine University; PhD, USC Rossier School of Ed, 1980 (source, smartvoter)
Ballot Designation: School Boardmember/Educator
League of Women Voters Questionnaire: What is the single most important issue facing LAUSD today? The most important issue facing LAUSD today is increasing academic achievement. Full answers here

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Vladovic on 4 more years: ‘Now it’s time to dream’

LAUSD school board President Richard Vladovic

LAUSD school board President Richard Vladovic

This is the next in a series of profiles on candidates running in the March 3 primary for the LA Unified school board. Today’s focus is board President Richard Vladovic, who is seeking reelection for the District 7 seat.

In many ways, LA Unified school board President Richard Vladovic sees himself as captain of a ship that made it through the storm of the century.

“Now it’s time to dream,” he told LA School Report when asked why voters in District 7 should give him four more years when they vote on March 3.

Vladovic was first elected to the board in 2007 and became president in 2013. Over his seven years, the board cut almost $2.5 billion from the district budget — angering parents, teachers and just about everybody else affiliated with LA Unified.

While anger may linger, the future looks better. With more money coming in from the state for the first time in years, Vladovic says he wants now to focus on leading the district into more prosperous and efficient times through priorities that include proper distribution of money to schools that need it most, a MiSiS system that works, a teacher evaluation system that’s fair and a better use of best practices districtwide.

All that requires experience, he said, making his case for voters to choose him over challengers Euna Anderson and Lydia Gutierrez.

“I think now is the time they need somebody with the experience and who is willing to compromise and isn’t pushing an ideological agenda and is willing to do what is best for kids,” he said. “And we don’t have to take a step back to figure out how to do something. I think I understand this better than my two colleagues.”

“I have the knowledge and I’ve got to tell you, I’m not doing it with any political agenda,” he added.

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Candidates play it safe, respectful at first — only? — District 7 debate

District 7 debate

Moderator Fernando Guerra and LAUSD board District 7 candidates (from L) Euna Anderson, Lydia Gutierrez and Richard Vladovic. (Credit: Tamea A.)

The candidates in the first — and what looks like only — LA Unified board District 7 debate played it safe and respectful at the Granada Theater in Wilmington on Friday night.

While differences did emerge between incumbent board President Richard Vladovic and his challengers, Lydia Gutierrez and Euna Anderson, the candidates refrained from criticizing the others’ policies and views, sticking mostly to their own positions to influence voters in the March 3 elections.

When the issue of money came up, as it often did, Vladovic reminded the crowd of almost 600 that the district gets its money from the state and that one of his top priorities is to convince the legislature to increase the education budget.

“We are 49th in all of the states in educational funding per pupil, when you account for economies and so forth,” he said. “We are not spending the same amount of money that New York or Rhode Island spends, they spend twice as much as us. So we need to focus on insuring that the state puts us as a bigger priority.”

Gutierrez was the most aggressive of the three, even choosing to stand every time she spoke. But she levied her criticisms and barbs more at the district rather than tying them to Vladovic’s leadership of the board. In response to Vladovic’s comments on state money, she scored perhaps the biggest hit of the night by reminding the crowd of the $139 million payout to victims of the Miramonte child abuse scandal and the problematic MiSiS computer system, which has cost the district tens of millions of dollars to fix.

“To continue to misuse funds, but then say we need more money, we have to establish where that money is going first,” she said.

Gutierrez also made the most mistakes and seemed to lack an overall knowledge of details.

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Taking on Vladovic, Anderson focusing on ‘positive’ path to board

Euna Anderson

Euna Anderson

This is the next in a series of profiles on candidates running in the March 3 primary for the LA Unified school board. Today’s focus is Euna Anderson, a candidate for the District 7 seat.

The LA Unified school board races this year have already seen a fair amount of negative campaigning, and even though she, too, has been a target, Euna Anderson says she intends to keep it positive, running for the District 7 seat.

After working 20 years at LAUSD as a teacher and principal in early education, she is taking on incumbent board President Richard Vladovic. And although he has been a lightning rod for controversy at times, Anderson prefers to focus on her attributes rather than the incumbent’s possible flaws.

“I think that I bring transparency. I think I bring a sense of inclusion, and I think I have a fresh approach to things,” Anderson told LA School Report. “So I don’t want to criticize [Vladovic] at this point. I just think that I am different than he is. I don’t have anything to hide. I don’t have any bones to pick with anybody.”

Anderson received a bachelor’s degree from Southern California College in organizational management and a master’s degree from Pepperdine’s organizational leadership program in 2002. She began her teaching career at LAUSD as a sub in 1994, becoming a full-time teacher the next year, and in 1996 she became an assistant principal.

Before working in education, Anderson said she was a fashion consultant and owned a salon in Marina del Rey. She is also a longtime resident of Carson in District 7 and has lived there for 46 years.

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Teachers union fails again to recommend endorsing Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic

The slow pace of progress toward a new contract in the teachers union negotiations with LA Unified is, so far, costing Board President Richard Vladovic any possibility of union support for his reelection.

The UTLA political action committee met last night, and a motion to recommend an endorsement to the union’s House of Representatives failed to win enough support to send it forward, according to a person close to the process.

“Members were upset about the lack of movement in the negotiations and his lack opinion on the issue,” the person said.

The union did not endorse Vladovic in his previous runs for the board, in 2007 and 2011.

So far this year, the union has endorsed only two of the four incumbents running — George McKenna, who is unopposed in District 1, and Bennett Kayser, who is facing two challengers in District 5.

The union has not endorsed anyone in District 3, where Tamar Galatzan is facing five challengers, including Scott Schmerelson, a retired teacher. As a strong supporter of charter schools, Galatzan would be the most unlikely board member to win a UTLA endorsement.

The lack of UTLA support for Vladovic, bidding for a third term, could provide a boost to one of his two challengers — Euna Anderson, a principal and former teacher. The other, Lydia Gutierrez, a teacher and former candidate for state Superintendent of Instruction, is a Republican and Tea Party favorite whose politics would not line up with the union’s.

The union is expected to take up the possibility of an endorsements for District 3 and 7 again next week.

In forum tonight, Kayser facing board rivals for first time

Bennett KayserBennett Kayser, who represents District 5 on the LA Unified school board, is front and center tonight, facing his two rivals for the first time in a much anticipated candidate forum at Eagle Rock High School.

After suddenly pulling out of two forums last week, Kayser is appearing in the wake of a recent attack mailer that questioned his support for Latino students.

The two-term board member, who is closely allied with the teachers union, said he cancelled due to scheduling issues, but an editorial in the  LA Times questioned whether politics could have been a factor: the forums were hosted by the United Way-Los Angeles and ten other community and education groups that often don’t see eye to eye with Kayser.

One of his opponents, educational consultant Andrew Thomas also canceled, leaving Ref Rodriguez, a 43-year-old community organizer and charter school founder to discuss issues on stage, alone. The controversial mailer, sponsored by the California Charter Schools Association, supported Rodriguez.

Here is a list of the upcoming school board forums. An asterisk denotes the incumbent.

Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Winnetka, Reseda, Lake Balboa, Sherman Oaks, West Hills, Van Nuys, Studio City, North Hollywood

Candidates:  Tamar Galatzan, Elizabeth Badger, Filiberto Gonzalez , Ankur Patel, Car Petersen, Scott Schmerelson

       Thursday, February 12, hosted by United Way in North Hollywood; 6 p.m. Details  here.

       Tuesday, February 17, hosted by League of Women Voters and neighborhood        councils in Canoga Park; 6 p.m. Details here.

Atwater Village, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Montecito Heights, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, East Los Angeles, South Gate, Cudahay, Maywood, Huntington Park

Candidates: Bennett Kayser, Ref Rodriguez , Andrew Thomas

Thursday, February 5, hosted by ARC and neighborhood councils in Eagle Rock; 7 p.m. Details here
Tuesday, February 10, hosted by United Way in Huntington Park; 6 p.m. Details here. (Kayser has cancelled)
Wednesday, February 11, hosted by LA-32 Neighborhood Council in El Sereno; 6 p.m. Details here.

Wednesday, February 18, hosted by the Mount Washington PTA and other Mount Washington-focused organizations in Mount Washington; 6:30 p.m. Details here.

San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, Carson, Harbor Gateway, Lomita, Garden, Willowbrook, Watts

Candidates: Richard Vladovic, Euna Anderson and Lydia Gutierrez.

Friday, February 6, hosted by United Way in Wilmington; 6 p.m.
Details here.