Photo by Robert S. Donovan via Flickr Creative Commons
In a split vote, the Los Angeles Unified school board decided late Tuesday against releasing the an initial investigation into the $500 million purchase of iPads and educational software.
Board members Richard Vladovic, George McKenna, Monica Garcia and Tamar Galatzan voted down the motion, outnumbering board members Monica Ratliff, Bennett Kayser and Steve Zimmer, who voted in favor of the release.
"The District should release the report in order to lay to rest certain questions and avoid any suspicion generated by lack of transparency," board member Monica Ratliff, who wanted to make it public, said in a statement Wednesday. "In light of the substantial investment of voter-approved bond funds in this project, I am disappointed that my colleagues have chosen not to publicize this report so many months after its completion.”
In this August 2014 file photo, Jefferson High School students walk out from classes to protest a broken class scheduling system.
The Los Angeles Unified board Tuesday night approved the purchase of 3,340 computers costing $3.6 million for school sites struggling to properly schedule classes, take attendance and track student needs in a new data system.
Ron Chandler, the district's chief information officer, said old desktops in schools offices cannot properly run the new data system, MISIS. The L.A. Unified Bond Oversight Committee recommended against the purchase, citing little evidence that there's need for them. The board nonetheless approved the purchase.
Earlier on Tuesday, the board also approved $1.1 million to fix scheduling problems at Jefferson that left some students without necessary classes or assigned to courses they had already passed.
Officials said to expect a request for new teacher computers next month, as well as proposals for more system trainers and developers in the future.
Los Angeles Unified instructional superintendent Tommy Chang speaks to parents at Jefferson High on Oct. 13, 2014 about a plan to fix class scheduling problems at the school.
Less than a week after a judge ordered the state and Los Angeles Unified to fix problems at Jefferson High, the district board unanimously approved a plan to reschedule students, extend the school day and hire more staff.
L.A. Unified officials said as many as 200 Jefferson students will be interviewed and, if necessary, placed in correct classes by Monday. Officials will also examine scheduling at every middle and high school to ensure students are getting the classes they need to graduate.
The board members agreed to spend $1.1 million to carry out the improvements.
The court order stems from a lawsuit brought by ACLU and Public Counsel on behalf of students at schools across California. Last Wednesday, Judge George Hernandez directed state and local officials to devise a plan to fix Jefferson's scheduling woes and present it to the school board.
Deepa Fernandes / KPCC
Long Beach preschool teacher Anabel Lopez leads children in a round of singing and dancing. Lopez has a bachelor's degree and receives $11.75 an hour where she teaches at Comprehensive Child Development Center.
While debate rages on increasing the minimum wage locally and nationally, one unexpected group of workers earning close to the bottom of the scale stands to benefit if the floor is raised: preschool teachers.
Although a college degree is required for many teaching in early education, it's not unusual for a teacher to get about $11.75 an hour or $24,440 for the year. That salary puts a family of three or more below the federal poverty line.
The state minimum wage now stands at $9 an hour and will rise to $10 in 2016. But if the Los Angeles City Council joins Mayor Eric Garcetti in supporting an increase in the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017, the average preschool teacher could see an annual salary of $27,560.
An estimated 56,000 preschool teachers in California, mostly women of color, would be among those affected. Anabel Lopez could be one.
FILE: Multiple libraries in L.A. Unified were closed after budget cuts. Even teachers could not check out books.
About 40 percent of Los Angeles Unified elementary schools still lack the staff to open libraries, leaving about 100,000 students without a way to borrow books on campus, according to figures recently released by the district.
During budget hearings last spring, Superintendent John Deasy promised to spend $6 million to bring back the 192 library aides who would help open shuttered elementary libraries across the district this school year.
In 2011 budget cuts, Deasy and the school board laid off half of the district's library aides and reduced the hours of many who were left. Without trained staff, schools can't run a library under state law.
"Students don't learn literacy skills (in the library). They learn that through trained teachers," Deasy told KPCC in 2011, after the cuts were announced.