LAUSD board rejoices in passing ‘best budget’ in seven years

LAUSD School Board

LAUSD board members Monica Garcia, Tamar Galatzan and Superintendent John Deasy

An extraordinary year for LA Unified came to an extraordinary end yesterday as the school board unanimously approved —  and with minimal debate — its largest budget in seven years.

The six board members played musical chairs congratulating one another and Superintendent John Deasy for a job well done. Members were especially complimentary of the district’s new effort to include input from community members in shaping the final spending plan.

“What a difference a year makes,” board president Richard Vladovic exclaimed, after lamenting the fiscal crisis of recent years that forced billions in cuts. Board member Tamar Galatzan added, “This is the best budget I’ve seen in the seven years I’ve been here.

The happy ending followed a tumultuous school year, in which the district scrambled to meet the requirements of the Governor Jerry Brown’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and create a plan justifying spending (LCAP); faced the potential resignation of the superintendent; suffered the death of Marguerite LaMotte, the board’s longest serving member; grappled with arguments over filling the vacated seat; and –finally — approved $6.4 billion in non-Federal dollars from a total budget of $7.27 billion that adds new teachers, librarians and nurses to a formerly decimated payroll.

The budget represents the first since 2007 that does not include cuts from the previous year. Changes to the law added $332 million from the state, increasing LCFF funding to $4.47 billion from $4.13 billion. The state mandates that $837 million of that is applied toward improving the academic achievement of LA Unified’s neediest students — foster youth, English learners and those from low-income households.

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LIVESTREAM coverage of today’s LAUSD school board meeting: budget a top priority

Community rally on school funding, April 7 2014

Community rally on school funding, April 7 2014

This morning, the Los Angeles Unified School Board meets to discuss a wide variety of issues including what promises to be a charged debate about a budget plan unveiled by Superintendent John Deasy last week.

Community groups have held a series of meetings and rallies, including one last night, advocating for a say in the budget process – which includes the use of new ‘Local Control’ funding.

To download the superintendent’s budget and presentation click here.
For the school board agenda, click here.

The meeting starts at 10:00 a.m.

To watch it via LIVESTREAM click HERE.


 

Watch now: Livestream coverage of today’s LAUSD committee meeting

monicaratliffoct22_13The LA Unified school board holds a committee meeting today, chaired by LAUSD trustee Monica Ratliff.

Among other items, the Curriculum Instruction and Assessment Committee is set to discuss the new ‘smarter balanced‘ assessments which will be administered this year on computers and tablets, taking the place of traditional standardized tests.

1:00 p.m.: Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee: (Agenda).

For LA School Report, livestream coverage,

click LIVESTREAM LAUSD

Watch now: Livestream coverage of today’s LAUSD committee meetings

Bennett KayserThe LA Unified school board is busy today with two committee meetings, both chaired by school board member Bennett Kayser:

10:00 a.m.: Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee Meeting: (Agenda)

1:00 p.m. Early Childhood Education and Parent Engagement Committee Meeting. (Agenda)

LA School Report, has livestream coverage:

click LIVESTREAM LAUSD


 

LIVESTREAM coverage of today’s LAUSD Board Meeting: iPADs & Election

Monica Ratliff 2013-11-12  Will the LA Unified school board vote (again) to move forward with its commitment to buy enough iPADs for students to take their year-end assessments?
Is a motion to appoint an ‘interim’ board member to the vacant school board seat actually, well, legal?
And how will that $7.8 billion in bond money for school repairs and infrastructure be dolled out?

All big issues – and LA School Report, is there live.  Check us out on Twitter @laschoolreport and via LIVESTREAM starting at 1:00 p.m.

To access, click: LIVESTREAM LAUSD

For meeting agenda click: Agenda

 

Live Coverage? LAUSD School Board Meets Without Streaming

image school boardThe LA Unified School Board meeting today was set to be carried live by LA School Report – at least the public part proceedings. But the live stream feed, scheduled to begin at 10:00 am when the regular board meeting convened, was not made available by the school board. The board has now retired behind closed doors. (See agenda here). We will commence live coverage when the feed is made available.

  • At 1:30 pm the Committee of the Whole, comprised of all board members, meets (see agenda here), check back with LA School Report for live coverage.
  • At 5:30 pm the Common Core Technology Project Ad Hoc Committee chaired by school board member Monica Ratliff meets (see agenda here), check back for live coverage.

Common Core Budget Approval Put Off for Another Week

Superintendent Deasy

Superintendent Deasy

The LA Unified school board voted, again, to delay its final decision on crafting and approving the $113 million Common Core budget for at least another week. The money comes from the state and is intended to help school districts transition over the next two years to the new curriculum.

It appeared to be a poke in the eye to Superintendent John Deasy, who had presented the Common Core budget at last month’s Board meeting, with roughly 75 percent of it allocated for teacher training. With input from board members, Deasy’s staff radically altered the plan to give individual schools greater control over the money — under the new version of the budget, each school would receive $70 per student.

“The feedback we got from last board meeting was a desire to have more school-based allocation,” said Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino.

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School Board Meeting Wrap Up: More Discussion Than Votes*

LaMotte, Garcia and Galatzan all, oddly, showed up in lime gree

School Board Members LaMotte, Garcia and Galatzan all showed up in green

What began as a breezy LA Unified School Board meeting on Tuesday turned, not surprisingly, into a long, tedious, sometimes rancorous session, with a host of issues discussed but rarely resolved. A number of key votes were postponed, and Superintendent John Deasy’s highly anticipated budget presentation was postponed until the Sept. 10 board meeting so it could be considered in the broader context of the 2013-14 budget.

Here are some of the highlights:

• One new feature of Richard Vladovic‘s newly begun presidency (aside from creating a number of new committees) was to order senior staff, including instructional superintendents, to attend board meetings. In many cases, when public commenters brought issues to the school board, Vladovic urged the visitors to meet, on the spot, with the district staffers.

• The Board debated the $113 million budget for implementing the new Common Core State Standards — although voting on the budget was postponed until next month. LAUSD Chief Academic Officer Jaime Aquino pointed out that roughly 75 percent of the budget is set to go toward helping teachers. Continue reading

Vladovic Adds Committees, Doles Out Assignments

photoSchool Board President Richard Vladovic, leading his first full meeting on Tuesday, created a slew of new “ad hoc” committees, naming as chairs each of his colleagues — with the exception of his predecessor as president, Monica Garcia.

Vladovic asked Board member Marguerite LaMotte to continue in her role as chair of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Committee; somewhat surprisingly, he asked Board member Tamar Galatzan to continue in her role as chair of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Galatzan is known as being one of the more fiscally prudent board members; she also ran against Vladovic for president.

As School Board Vice President, Steve Zimmer will chair the Committee of the Whole, which holds in-depth debates on various topics.

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Vladovic Defeats Galatzan for Board President

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Board member Vladovic (standing) speaks as Board members Kayser and Ratliff listen

In one of the more dramatic meetings in recent memory, the newly installed 2013-2014 LAUSD School Board selected Dr. Richard Vladovic (standing, left) as its next President by a vote of 5 to 2.

Newly sworn-in Board member Monica Ratliff joined Steve Zimmer, Marguerite LaMotte, Bennett Kayser and Vladovic himself in the majority. Outgoing Board President Monica Garcia nominated and voted for Tamar Galatzan, who received two votes.

Pre-meeting rumors had Zimmer neck and neck with Vladovic, but those turned out to be off the mark, as Zimmer was never nominated. Neither Galatzan nor Mayor Garcetti (rumored to be working behind the scenes) were able to persuade Zimmer or Ratliff to break from the bloc of independent and/or union-allied Board members.

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Preview: Board Presidency Up for Grabs Tuesday

Dr. Vladovic, right, could become the next Board president

Dr. Vladovic, right, was the frontrunner to become the next President until recent revelations about an ongoing investigation

On Tuesday, the School Board will convene for a sort of mini-meeting to swear in current members Monica Garcia, Steve Zimmer and the newly elected Monica Ratliff.

It will also vote to elect a new Board President, a position held by Garcia for the last six years. The Board recently voted to limit the jobs to two consecutive year-long terms.

Until recently, the likely frontrunner for the job was Dr. Richard Vladovic, who is said to have been lobbying other Board members for the job. But as Daily News reported this morning, Dr. V is currently under investigation for harassing two employees.

We’ll have more about the fallout from the Vladovic allegations later today.

One interesting thing to note is the procedure for choosing a president. Superintendent John Deasy will ask for nominations — and who gets called on first is his choice. The Board votes on nominees right after they’re made, meaning that there could be only one nomination. Conversely, nominations could be voted on multiple times.

On Tuesday the Board will also appoint a Vice President who runs the meetings when the President is absent or has recused him or herself. It will then vote on about a dozen routine items of business, and then break for most of the summer.

Previous posts: Vladovic the Frontrunner for PresidentZimmer Reversal Likely Ends Garcia Presidency*Deasy Skirmish With Board Members a Long Time ComingBoard Members Ask Deasy To Explain HimselfDefiant Deasy Says He’ll Push Targeted Spending Plan Anyway

Marathon Board Meeting Signals Changes to Come

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Superintendent John Deasy, Board President Monica Garcia, and departing Board member Nury Martinez

As anyone following us on Twitter knows all too well, Tuesday’s School Board meeting was a marathon session that lasted well into the night – much of it accompanied by the sound of protesters drumming on the street outside.

Among several key decisions the Board arrived at during the lengthy session were votes to award a $30 million contract to Apple, close a charter school that had dodged a district audit, and add some local regulations to the controversial parent trigger process (but not call for the law’s repeal).

The last meeting of the 2012-2013 school year, it also marked the final appearance of Nury Martinez, who left the Board after four years to run for City Council.

School Board President Monica Garcia presented Martinez with a giant bell, and Board held a bizarre mid-meeting reception in her honor that included a soft jazz band and chicken salad sandwiches.

By 9 pm, when the meeting finally ended, the Board had also approved its 2013-14 budget and begun a furious (and likely to be long-running) debate on how to spend future revenue increases.

If last month’s Board meeting represented a series of hard-fought victories for Superintendent John Deasy and his allies on the Board, last night’s meeting included a couple of losses, with a hint of more to come when the Board changes composition and leadership next month.

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Special Board Meeting Not So Special After All

UTLA President Warren Fletcher speaking to the School Board

UTLA President Warren Fletcher speaking to the School Board

There was an air of excitement surrounding today’s special Board meeting to discuss LAUSD’s budget, resulting in no less than four television crews in addition to KNX radio and three (count ‘em!) education reporters live-tweeting the proceedings.

The cause of all the excitement?  The expected clash between Board members who want LAUSD to rehire teachers and reduce class sizes — included among them Board Member Bennett Kayser, who requested the added meeting — and other Board members like Tamar Galatzan who would prefer to revamp how funds are disbursed among schools (and Superintendent John Deasy, who wants to give everyone a raise before doing much rehiring).

Unfortunately, the event turned into something of a dud, filled with familiar budget presentations and predictable pleas for additional funding. There was little real debate over what district priorities should be once revenue from Proposition 30 starts to pour in, and any decision over the shape of things to come will have to wait until the June 18 Board meeting.

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Preview: Board to Consider Hiring, Formula Issues

Board Member Bennett Kayser, who pushed for the special meeting

Board Member Bennett Kayser, who pushed for the June 4 special meeting

At the May School Board meeting earlier this month, Board member Bennett Kayser (pictured) called for a special meeting to discuss next year’s budget, which is due June 30.

That meeting is being held on Tuesday, June 4, at which time Board members are scheduled to introduce to two new resolutions (see agenda here), which could then be voted on during the next regular Board meeting, scheduled for June 18.

One of the new resolutions is aimed at reducing class size (otherwise known as hiring more teachers); the other is aimed at sending more state money to schools with high concentrations of low-income students and English language learners.

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Deasy & Allies Prevail at May Board Meeting

Tuesday’s marathon School Board meeting included an ambitiously long agenda, simmering tensions among Board members, and no less than three different rallies going on outside the LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry Avenue throughout the day.

Though the exchanges never quite rose to the level of outright acrimony, there were some dramatic moments as the Board members and speakers debated the latest parent trigger petition and the consequences of changing the district’s school discipline policies.

In the end, the Board voted to end suspensions for “willful defiance,” a cause championed by Superintendent John Deasy and Board President Monica Garcia, and to approve the latest parent trigger petition at Weigand Elementary. The Board also voted — unanimously — to continue and expand the controversial Breakfast in the Classroom program.

After several weeks of having his leadership and policies pummeled by the teachers union, Deasy and his allies on the Board prevailed on pretty much every one of their priorities.

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Parent Group Petitions for Superintendent Deasy

“Nothing makes me happier than seeing parents mobilize to support the changes underway in LAUSD,” writes former School Board candidate Kate Anderson in a recent email.  “Just such a mobilization is underway and you can take part.”

Anderson’s talking about the Support Our Superintendent petition that’s been circulating the past few days.

Signed by more than 1,200 people, with a goal of 2,000 by today, the petition’s purpose is “to support the work of Superintendent Deasy and the policies he has put in place.” It’s also meant to counter-balance the various UTLA polls and surveys that are meant to show teacher dissatisfaction with Superintendent Deasy.

The organizers are rallying from 10:30 – noon at the LAUSD headquarters on Beaudry today — the same day that teachers and SEIU members are also rallying.

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Board Preview: Multiple Protests, Packed Agenda

Teachers protest outside the School Board meeting in March of 2012

Just as record-breaking temperatures in Los Angeles are expected to subside by tomorrow, many of the heated LAUSD issues on the docket for tomorrow’s Board meeting may cool off into mere formalities by the time they come up for a vote.

But a packed Board agenda and multiple union rallies could still make for a dramatic day at the district’s Beaudry Avenue headquarters.

Both UTLA and the SEIU Local 99 have planned demonstrations. The latest “parent trigger” petition is up for approval, and Board member proposals on such difficult topics as lengthening the school year and reforming school discipline are all on the agenda.

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Union Focusing on Jobs at Tuesday Board Meeting

Tuesday, May 14, is the next scheduled LAUSD School Board meeting, and it may be a noisy one.

United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) is planning a major show of force at the meeting and afterwards, calling for reductions in class size (and rehiring of laid-off teachers) .

According to the UTLA website, the School Board should rehire teachers due to the passage of Proposition 30 last year.

Meantime, there are other hot-button issues that may be discussed, including the Deasy budget items (including classroom breakfast), teacher dismissals, and the new teacher evaluation program.  The Board agenda for the May 14 meeting includes numerous decisions, approvals, and member resolutions. (See 05-14-13 Board Order Of Business).

Previous posts: UTLA Softens Criticism of Classroom BreakfastDeasy Budget MemoDeasy Memo Foreshadows Dramatic Board MeetingBoard Likely to Back Classroom Breakfast

Deasy Memo Foreshadows Dramatic Board Meeting

The May 14 School Board meeting two weeks from today is shaping up to be a blockbuster event featuring mass demonstrations by two unions and a host of conflict-laden issues for the Board to decide on.

The teachers union has promised to hold a large rally demanding that LAUSD hire more teachers, nurses and librarians. The SEIU local 99, an equally powerful union (with a larger membership) that represents classified employees, will also make its presence felt in support of the controversial Breakfast in the Classroom program.

And — in response to demands from UTLA and the administrators union (called AALA) —  LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy has put eight separate budget items up for Board members to vote up or down.

“The need is to make a decision between the demands from UTLA and competing issues inside the budget,” said Deasy, who will recommend to the Board that they vote to keep all the items. “I’m going to make recommendations, but I want them to understand… you can’t invest in everything.”

Some Board Members have been a bit unsettled by the Superintendent’s dramatic actions.

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