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Unified enrollment plan on hold as tech decision is delayed

Mike Szymanski | May 10, 2017



Steve Zimmer has more questions about unified enrollment.

A sweeping technology plan for LA Unified that included an expanded unified enrollment system was postponed Tuesday night as school board members await more information and staff adds up the total costs.

The school board was being asked to set aside money for a unified enrollment system even as one has launched on the district’s website this week (apply.lausd.net) that already has 155,000 families using it.

Superintendent Michelle King said she expects to launch another system in full force before school starts in the fall that will help her in her goal of keeping students enrolled in district schools, and not seek out charter school alternatives. That system is expected to help parents enroll children in alternative district school programs, but not charter schools, and let families know what programs are available in local schools. There has been talk in the past about eventually including charter school options in the unified enrollment system, and some groups are specifically advocating for charter inclusion.

In the proposal that was delayed until the next meeting, the school board is being asked to redirect $24 million in savings that the technology division saved from bond funding for the School Upgrade Program. The staff is also asking for an additional $58 million from the bond fund to complete a Learning Management System, an Enterprise Reporting Project, and modernization projects at 40 school sites.

The unified enrollment project faced some skepticism by school board members last week at a Committee of the Whole meeting as the district is seeking bids to contract out the system. Apply.lausd.net is being used as a one-stop online search engine and enrollment program to help rank desired schools. School board President Steve Zimmer has asked for more information about how such universal enrollment programs have helped at other districts and whether there is data showing that schools have retained enrollment or staved off a loss of enrollment to charter schools.

“I want to make sure that what we are investing in is wise,” Zimmer said. “In other districts, what evidence do we have that equity and access has been addressed? What evidence from other districts show that it will improve enrollment?”

The Learning Management System is to provide all schools with an online platform for posting assignments, grades, and personalized learning, while the Enterprise Reporting Project will replace outdated data dashboard systems and correct issues caused by the MiSiS system.

The 40 modernization projects will replace failing phone and public address systems at K-12 school sites. For 13 of those schools, it will include upgrading internet connections.

The budget impact could be a total of $82 million, but staff said they anticipate one-time general fund payments. Staff plans to come back to the June school board meeting for more details and to adjust the total funding amount.

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