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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LA Schools budget discussion: more teachers, custodians, health services, technology

84188 full
84188 full

The Los Angeles Unified school board is scheduled to discuss Superintendent John Deasy's 2014-2015 proposed budget at its meeting Tuesday - and it promises hours of debate over long lists of competing wants.

Board members commended the superintendent's $6.8 billion proposal when it was released last month, but are now pushing for changes:

  • Increasing teacher pay and hiring continue to be a priority for board member Steve Zimmer, a frequent proponent of labor-friendly polices. Zimmer is asking for a cost of living adjustment and reinstating laid-off staff. Earlier this year, the district estimated a 3.24 percent cost-of-living adjustment would cost $130 million.
  • "Wellness centers" are the district's growing delivery model for student and family health services such as counseling, health insurance enrollment and dental care. Board members Monica Garcia, Richard Vladovic and Zimmer are all proposing leveraging an unspecified amount of money targeted at high needs students to support the centers - and tapping $50 million from school construction bonds to develop and expand the centers.

  • Custodians would see their numbers increase by 108 if board member Monica Ratliff's proposal gets traction. Ratliff recommends changing the funding stream for school police, freeing up $13.2 million in funds targeted at the district's neediest students. She proposes using $6.5 million for more custodians, $4 million for additional restorative justice counselors, $2.5 million for greater "school-wide positive behavior interventions and supports".
  • A new formula for doling out money to campuses is supported by Garcia, Vladovic and Zimmer. It would redistribute over $800 million in state-targeted funds to 242 schools serving large populations of English learners, low-income kids and foster youth. The advocates that developed the formula also took into account criteria such as neighborhood gun violence, access to health and suspension and expulsion rates. Opponents argue the method would deprive high-need students at schools not on the list.

Deasy is also asking the board to approve spending from the district's $19.5 billion bond funds raised for school construction. Among his requests:

  • Technology expansion continues to be a top priority. Deasy's staff is requesting another $190 million in bond funds to cover wifi upgrades at school sites, costs of which continue to mount.  It's part of a long list of proposed technology expenditures going before the board this week.
  • Another is a $50 million for a new data disaster recovery system and an amendment to a $50 million contract to set-up iPads for testing on school campuses.
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