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

LA school board president elected to 2nd term

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Richard Vladovic

Richard Vladovic was elected by fellow board members Tuesday to a second term as president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board.

There was no discussion of Vladovic's track record nor his plans for the coming school year. The whole thing took less than three minutes and Tamar Galatzan was the only no vote.

Vladovic guided the board in a year of major changes: the switch to Common Core, the start of the district's one-to-one iPad technology program, a waiver from No Child Left Behind and a move to a new state funding stream aimed at high need students.

The school board pledges all of the reforms will improve academic outcomes for students. 

A former Social Studies teacher and administrator, Vladovic has served on the board since 2007, representing San Pedro, Gardena, Carson and surrounding areas. He replaced Monica Garcia as president last July. 


iPads year 2: LA schools to launch teacher prep course


Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Russ Swanson, left, a virtual learning complex facilitator, works with second graders at Baldwin Hills Elementary as they use their iPads for the first time.

The Los Angeles Unified school district is developing a digital course to help over 700 schools ease into its $1.3 billion technology program.

Schools just getting the tablets in the coming school year will select teachers, administrators and students to lead roll out. Staff will be required to complete the self-guided course in addition to in-person professional development before the computers are distributed.

Bernadette Lucas, director of the program, said they are listening to feedback from teachers who received the devices last year.

Last school year, 85 campuses were slated to go one-to-one, receiving an iPad for each student, with varying results. Some schools pleaded for more planning, administrators said. Four schools asked to be taken off the list of those receiving tablets last year.


Paid family leave law expands the definition of family


California's new expanded definition of family allows for paid time off to care for grandparents, in-laws, siblings and grandchildren.

For a decade, California’s Paid Family Leave Law has allowed workers to receive paid time off while taking care of a sick child, parent, spouse or domestic partner. 

Starting Tuesday, the state expands the type of relatives Californians can take paid time off of work to care for to include siblings, grandparents, in-laws and grandchildren. It’s funded through the state disability insurance program that comes out of an employee's paycheck.

Sharon Terman with the Legal Aid Society Employment Law Center in San Francisco called the expansion of this law a "critical step" for workers who can't afford to take time off unpaid to care for ill relatives. 

Workers need a doctor's certificate stating the relative needs care and will then get  55% of their wage for the time they are the primary caregiver. It can be used for six weeks in any one year – the same as caring for a close relative.


Dust off those shelves: 200 library aides head back to LA schools

Library Literacy - 2

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Sada Mozer, the children's librarian for the Junipero Serra Branch, reads "Oh!" by Josse Goffin to Trinity Street Elementary School fifth graders.

The Los Angeles Unified school district is spending $6 million next school year to bring back 192 libraries aides, opening shuttered libraries across the region.

"We are grateful that you have funded libraries for our students. We want to be the voice of our students who aren’t here to thank you," Cathy Ellingford, a library aide at Eagle Rock Elementary, told the school board Tuesday. Ellingford spoke on the behalf of several library aides who sat in the audience, wearing matching blue t-shirts.

Last school year, KPCC reported L.A. Unified slashed hundreds of library positions to weather recession-era budget cuts.  To keep them open, many elementary school principals elected to use discretionary funds to hire library aides.

Others tried to use parent volunteers. But California law mandates schools use specialized staff to check out books, stock shelves and suggest grade-appropriate reading material.


LA school board passes $7.3 billion budget

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Stock photo by JasonUnbound via Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Unified school board unanimously approved a $7.3 billion operating budget at its meeting Tuesday.

The funds reflect a $332 million bump in state funding for the 2014-15 school year, but strings are attached. Every school district in California had to create a "local control accountability plan", outlining how the new money would improve education for foster youth, low-income students and those learning English as a second language.

"I could not be more proud of this," said Superintendent John Deasy. "I think it is the model for the state of California."

Here's some of the changes high-need students can expect:

  • Foster students will be get the most significant change: 60 new psychiatric social workers will be dedicated to their care and nearly $9 million will go to a foster youth support plan. 
  • More students at 37 low-income schools will see psychologists, nurses and campus aides. The staffing boost settles a lawsuit. Other low-income schools won't see a similar uptick in services.
  • Spending on English learners will grow by $5 million over last year, boosting the program's budget to $28 million.