Tami Abdollah / KPCC
With hundreds of people protesting outside, the L.A. Unified Board of Education passed a parcel tax for the November ballot that would seek to generate millions in revenue for schools.
The L.A. Unified Board of Education approved a $298 parcel tax for the November ballot that would seek to generate millions in revenue for schools annually from property owners within district boundaries and help improve future budget forecasts.
Board members voted 6-1 to approve the parcel tax, with Marguerite LaMotte voting no. The tax is expected to generate $255 million annually in revenue for schools over each of five years beginning in 2013-14.
"Sacramento cannot take this money away," said Superintendent John Deasy in a presentation to the board. "They cannot cut this fund, this fund goes directly to our schools."
Deasy said the tax is based on the idea that the economy will improve and that schools will receive more funding. The district has been hit with $2.3 billion in funding cuts since 2008-9, Deasy said.
Tami Abdollah / KPCC
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside L.A. Unified headquarters downtown as the board met inside to discuss the district's dire budget picture.
The L.A. Unified Board of Education approved an updated 2012 budget plan that, without union concessions, includes major cuts to adult and early education as well as elementary arts programs. The plan provides no funding for its winning Academic Decathlon program, marching band and outdoor education.
As hundreds protested outside, Superintendent John Deasy briefed the school board on how the district plans to offset a $390 million hole in its $6-billion budget given a continually changing budget scenario that may be affected by Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget in May and whether voters approve various tax measures, including a district parcel tax, on the November ballot.
"Everything I've said is only for a year, none of it is ongoing, they are all bandaids, and that is not the way to run a system," Deasy said. "So the ability to have any of these items ongoing and sustainable so we don't sit through this every single year will depend on a revenue source."
Tami Abdollah / KPCC
Protesters gather outside LAUSD board meeting on Tuesday, March 13, 2012. One mom (left, in red) Katherine Donapetry, was there to support early education for her two daughters, noting that parents had tried raising money. "We don't know what else to do."
Hundreds of protesters lined the street outside L.A. Unified's downtown headquarters today to speak out against proposed budget cuts that would eviscerate the adult and early education programs as well as funding for programs such as Academic Decathlon.
Katherine Donapetry stood outside with other parents from Vanalden Avenue Early Education Center in Reseda to protest cuts that would eliminate such a program. Donapetry has a 5-year-old and 2-year-old daughter.
"My 5-year-old...it's done great things for her. She's ready for kindergarten," Donapetry said. "I want hte same thing for my little girl, and all the children after."
Donapetry said parents have worked to raise funds, volunteer and even help clean the school grounds.
"We don't know what else to do," Donapetry said. "Everytime they cut somebody, another parent walks in to help."
California State Capitol in Sacramento
California state Senate and Assembly Republicans unveiled legislation today to expedite the dismissal of educators who engage in criminal behavior in response to the flurry of reported sex-abuse cases in L.A. Unified schools over the last months.
The proposed reforms, which will be introduced as legislation this week, are based on a "Top Ten" recommended reforms list produced by L.A. Unified officials and a letter from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, according to a release.
The legislators specifically refer to the case of former Miramonte Elementary School teacher Mark Berndt, arrested and charged with 23 lewd acts upon a child, and subsequent reports on sex-abuse throughout the district, as the impetus for their proposals to change the state Education Code.
"Public schools are supposed to be havens for safe learning, not a proving ground for sexual predators," said Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, of Diamond Bar, in a statement. "The recent arrest of two Miramonte Elementary teachers for lewd acts against their students shows that we must change the law to protect our kids. That’s why Republicans are standing with Mayor Villaraigosa and Los Angeles Unified to enact reforms to empower local districts and ensure that a Miramonte-like tragedy never happens again."
A squad car with the Compton School Police.
The Compton Unified School District says it has suspended a middle school staff employee who is under investigation for alleged inappropriate sexual behavior with student.
Interim Superintendent Karen Frison says in a statement Monday that the district was informed of the investigation at Davis Middle School on Friday and immediately placed the staff member on administrative leave.
"The district takes all allegations seriously, and we are committed to ensuring that the safety of our students, staff and community members remains a top priority," Frison said in the statement.
"We are giving the sheriff's department our full support as these allegations are investigated."
No further details were available. The entire statement can be found on Compton Unified's website.
The case is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department special victims bureau.