A civil rights advocacy group is proposing the Los Angeles Unified School District spend $44 million over the next three years to restore 2,000 preschool and child care seats - a fraction of the 11,000 that have been cut since 2008.
Kim Patillo Brownson, of the Advancement Project, made the proposal Thursday afternoon at a meeting of the school district's early education subcommittee, of which she's a member. She wants school officials to use new increases in state funding meant to help disadvantaged children for the expansion.
Under the Local Control Funding Formula, L.A. Unified was slated to receive an extra $188 million this year to help educate students who are low-income, English-learners or foster children. Using some of it for early education, Patillo Brownson said, is an investment in "prevention rather than after-the-fact remediation."
This is the first formal proposal for how children aged 0-5 can benefit from the increase.
Superintendent John Deasy is expected to share his planned priorities for the new funding in mid to late March. The school board will begin setting priorities soon after.
Patillo Brownson proposes $10 million of the Local Control Funding Formula increase to be used next year for mental health counseling, training early childhood teachers, and the expansion of a parent engagement program. The number of preschool and childcare slots would be increased in the following two years.
"We're the choir here," Celia Ayala, of the early education advocacy group LAUP, responded after the presentation. Chaired by board member Bennett Kayser, the subcommittee includes some of the city’s early education leaders.
Administration officials also reported Thursday on “chronic absenteeism” among students of Transitional Kindergarten, a new grade created this year for four-year-olds who just missed the cut-off for Kindergarten.
“What we’ve found is that when students are absent from TK or Kindergarten, it directly impacts their later test scores,” said Debra Durado, Executive Director of Student Health & Human Services. “Once a student missed more than 7 days of school it began to impact them academically.”
The subcommittee also heard a presentation about efforts to establish a quality control program for early education centers. Similar to the restaurant letter grade system, this program will pilot quality assessments and provide training to childcare centers to help them earn a top grading.