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LAUSD examines plan to up student enrollment

A typical classroom.
A typical classroom.
BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Superintendent John Deasy painted an ominous picture of the school district's budget for the coming year at Tuesday's LAUSD board meeting. The district is looking at a $543 million budget deficit for 2012-13. He raised the possibility of putting a parcel tax before voters on the November ballot to help raise revenue for schools. If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2012 budget is approved and his initiative to temporarily increase taxes is passed by voters in November, the district would receive about $237 million in state funding, Deasy said. If not, K-12 education would be cut by $4.8 billion. Thousands of employees could face layoffs, entire programs could be cut, and months of school might be lost, Deasy told boardmembers.

The board unanimously approved a resolution (6-0, board member Bennett Kayser wasn't present) to examine expanding magnet school, dual immersion and IB program enrollment to remedy the district's declining enrollment numbers. The district also agreed look at expanding Gifted and Talented Education testing to all students, not just those whose parents or teachers ask. The resolution also asks the district to review the risks and benefits of allowing families the ability to choose multiple magnet schools (instead of just one) during the application process.

"These are success stories that far exceed a particular funding scheme," said board member Steve Zimmer, the resolution's co-sponsor. "These are programs that work because of their instructional design, because of their parent activism, because of the excellence in teaching and learning that's happening within that school community...We can grow these programs."

A resolution was also introduced to ask the district to look at doing away with enrollment boundaries for L.A. Unified neighborhood schools so as to give parents more flexibility to select a school within the district that fits their child's needs. It will be before the board for a vote next Tuesday at a special 3 p.m. meeting.

"It's not about taking kids out of the neighborhood," said board president Monica Garcia. "We want to look at how the district is setting up rules, how they function...We know people value choice."

There was varied public comment at today's meeting. Parents spoke against the district's decision to change the threshold requirements for a school to qualify for Title I funding. Parents were also on hand to speak against cuts to early education centers.

Finally, several people spoke against the board for the removal of their principal Dr. Kenneth Pride at Orville Wright Middle School in Westchester.

Check back for more detailed updates.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email or on Twitter @LATams.