The staff behind the social media campaign to shame the Los Angeles Unified School District into repairing tattered and infested campuses won a first victory.
After every local media outlet - and some national ones - reported on the "repairs not iPads" Facebook group, a school board committee overseeing facilities scheduled a discussion on campus repairs for its Thursday meeting.
“It’s very difficult to get the school board’s attention," said Matthew Kogan, an L.A. Unified teacher who created the Facebook group. "I’ve waited many hours sometimes to speak for three minutes.”
KPCC first reported on the group's photos of busted toilets and dead mice February 4th. At the time, the group had about 70 members. As other news organizations picked up the story over the next few days, it ballooned to over 3,000 members.
Kogan had started the group anonymously, but has now decided to identify himself.
He wants the district to fix broken sinks, water fountains and toilets - and get rid of ant and rodent infestations - using $20 billion in bond funds voters approved for school repairs and construction at L.A. Unified.
"Our roof is leaking and instead of going out to fix it, we are going to buy an iPad,” Kogan said. He's annoyed the district wants to use about $1.3 billion in bond funds to provide a tablet for every student and teacher and corresponding wifi upgrades.
The kinds of repairs Kogan and other school staff want are small compared with new campuses. But that kind of maintenance has not been a priority, according to Sarah Bradshaw, chief of staff for Bennett Kayser, who chairs the school board's Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee.
"If you are on top of it, it costs less," she said. "But what we've been doing is patches and crossing our fingers."