Recent News & Events
A few months ago, the Los Angeles Unified school board approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts to the budgets of schools with mixed populations of middle-class and low-income students. Parents and administrators at many of those schools say that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. In response, many of them want to break away from the school district by filing for independent charter status. Click on the link to read or listen to the show.
Watch this video at http://friendsoflaces.com/blog/?p=423 and share it on Facebook and Twitter. LACES parents, students and teachers talk about the programs now on the chopping block.
Six big-city school districts recently were awarded $3.5 million grants from the U.S. Department of Education to expand their Advanced Placement (AP) programs.
“Research shows that students who take challenging classes are more likely to earn a college degree,” said U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “This program will help give more low-income students the opportunity to take advanced courses and prepare them to succeed in college and careers.”
The six Great City School districts will receive the following amounts in 2011:
$650,000 – Milwaukee Public Schools
$630,062 – School District of Palm Beach County
$588,975 – St. Louis Missouri School District
$584,195 – Los Angeles Unified School District
$446,295 - New York City Board of Education
$642,185 – Charleston County School District
School Transportation Temporary Restored -- Feb 3rd, 2012
"The California Legislature restores $248 million for home-to-school transportation. Gov. Jerry Brown had eliminated school busing money after state revenues fell short of projections."
A Temporary "Safe Harbor" for 23 Schools That Lost Title 1 Fulding -- Feb 2nd, 2012
23 School Meeting -- January 31st, 2012
Parents from LACES--Connie Boukidis; SOCES--Pam Levenstein, Alison Martin, Hooshik Bayliss-Nazarian, and Susan Rovner; Millikan--Shana Landsburg; Dahlia Height--Katy Hickman; Hamilton--Manuel Urrutia met for a few hours at Mels Diner in valley.
Manuel Urrutia from Hamilton went through the budget with us on his computer. He has forwarded his info because I am sure that most of us do not realize how enormous the LAUSD budget is, but in the end how little of it actually is spent on our kids. Literally we start off with 12 billion then it immediately drops to $7 billion operating budget. Of that it goes to $3 billion which translates to about $6,000 spent on each kid. But once a lot of other expenses are deducted, it rounds out to $3,000 plus on each kid. So from $12 billion, it ends in $1.5 billion on the kids. It's hard to know and shocking where the rest of money has gone. You can download the LAUSD budget pie chart at the bottom of this page.
A parent at Millikan is pursuing a petition in the courts to require LAUSD to answer for their shortcomings. Some of the parents pointed out that perhaps we do not want to go that route.
Katy Hickman of Dahlia Heights brought the TITLE 1 proposal that Bennett Kayser has been working on which uses the threat of losing more schools to charters as one incentive to vote for a revision. We are cautiously optimistic about a partial reinstatement taking place.
Since it appears that the TITLE 1 fund cut issue may come to a temporary conclusion but is not set in stone yet, we agreed to keep working on emails, letters and plan to attend the 2/14 Board meeting downtown. The other schools asked how other schools are able to reach their TITLE 1 parents since it there is a confidentiality issue.
Ms. Susan Rovner of SOCES made an excellent suggestion that we enlist the students in this whole process where they can use social media to broadcast this TITLE 1 issue through the student/leadership councils, etc.
Since Kayser's proposal emphasizes the threat of losing more schools to charters, it may behoove the schools who are in a position to threaten that to write new letters emphasizing that potential possibility.
We also agreed to try to build a coalition amongst us for larger budget issues, proposed taxes, LAUSD transparency, etc.
We covered a lot of different issues, charters, busing, magnets, LAUSD future, redistricting, but the enormity of the LAUSD budget and lack of transparency as to where it is really all going was the most sobering part of the evening.
Town Hall meeting with Superintendent Deasy and School Board member Tamar Galatzan -- Jan 25th, 2012
Meeting with School Board Members Steve Zimmer and Marguerite LaMotte -- January 19, 2012
Two groups of parents from LACES and several other schools affected by the Title 1 cuts met with School Board members Marguerite LaMotte and Steve Zimmer.
Ms. LaMotte indicated that she was not interested in changing her vote.
Mr. Zimmer started by assuring us that despite the mid-year trigger cuts, transportation would not be eliminated.
Zimmer re-framed the issue as being not about restoration of the Title 1 cuts, which is unlikely to happen due to Supt. Deasy’s concern about compliance with Title 1 legislation, but about preserving the programs, regardless of the source of the funding. Denying access to intervention programs to Title 1 students simply because they happen to not be in high-poverty school (Title 75% and up) is on its face inequitable. While the cuts are affecting all schools, the decision about the Title 1 funds will have a disproportionate impact on the 23 schools that are losing Title 1 funds. He said “these children cannot be denied their right to this funding.”.
He said that if the Title 1 funds are cut, the programs must be funded from other sources. He did not offer specifics about these sources. There needs to be a plan in place before they pull these funds to maintain these basic programs. He said the funds are there, they just need to be transitioned,
Mr. Zimmer stressed that the Board must hear from Title 1 parents.
On January 10, parents from LACES, SOCES and a few other schools attended a regular meeting of the LAUSD school board to ask the Board to re-consider its decision regarding Title 1 funds. Eight LACES parents spoke during the public comment period.
Click on the link above to watch the video archive for Jan 10th, 2011 school board meeting. In the mid section of the video, LACES parents Connie Boukidis and Jenny Skoble, along with several other parents from other schools affected by the Title 1 funding threshold change, explained to the School
Board that the Board's decision was misguided. They urged the Board to reconsider its decision and find better ways to meet the budget challenge.
Meeting at Tarmar Galatzan's Office -- January 6
Parents from LACES and several of the other schools affected by the Title 1 cuts met with Ms. Donna Muncey and Ms. Debbie Ernst, the LAUSD analysts who had made the recommendation to the board to change the Title 1 funding threshold. Little progress was made, as the decisions were made purely on the basis of the numerical data. No consideration was give to the fact that LACES is currently one of LAUSD’s most successful schools, and that a huge cut to its budget with no prior warning would have a devastating effect. At the same time, the $4.5 million the district would save from cutting funds to the 23 schools would be unlikely to have much effect when spread out over 610 higher poverty schools. The meeting took place at the office of Tamar Galatzan, the one school board member who voted against the change to Title 1 funding.
California Budget Trigger Cuts, Elimination of School Transportation, Title 1 Funding Cut
In early December, the state announced its revenue projections were going to fall short by $1 billion, causing automatic “trigger cuts” to take effect on January 1, 2012. LAUSD stands to lose $38 million in transportation funding, which would effectively eliminate all free school transportation. This posed a particular problem to magnet schools as their students come from all over the city and rely heavily on district-provided transportation. Since transportation services are mandated by law for magnet schools, permits with transportation, and special needs students, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy filed a lawsuit against the state.
Just days later, on December 13, the School Board voted 6-1 to change the eligibility threshold for schools to receive Title 1 funds. Title I requires that school districts rank their schools in order of poverty and to first fund schools having a poverty level above 75%. Districts may then decide to allocate remaining funds to schools with lower poverty levels. The Board voted to raise the threshold for receiving Title 1 funds from 40% free or reduced lunch-eligible to 50%. A total of 23 schools, including LACES and several others of Los Angeles’ most outstanding schools, were affected by this decision. LACES lost $460,000 in funding. Other schools lost even more.
A $460,000 cut to LACES will result in the severe reduction or elimination of intervention programs for low-income, disabled and English learners that have been instrumental in helping to close the achievement gap, as well as the loss of the two teaching positions, two counselors, the choir director, the parent liaison, a clerk, an aide, and three out of five days of the school nurse.