LAUSD to cancel majority of students' transfer permits

TORRANCE - Suburban school districts are adjusting to the news that the Los Angeles Unified School District will no longer allow students residing there to transfer to outside schools, it was reported today.

LAUSD expects to cancel four-fifths of the 12,249 transfer permits it grants to students, allowing them to attend school outside the district. Those pupils will have to transfer to LAUSD schools this summer.

Torrance's school district accepts more LAUSD students than any other district in the county: 2,200 kids. And its superintendent says it is preparing for the loss.

But the impact may be worse at the small Culver City Unified School District, where its 1,667 LAUSD permit students make up as much as 20 percent of its student body. Teachers at Culver City High School have already been told some class offerings, made possible by a student body swelled with LAUSD residents, will not be offered next fall.

LAUSD will gain $51 million in state funds next year by keeping students at their local schools. The 618,000-student district, already reeling from funding cuts over the last two years, is facing a $640 million shortfall, the Daily Breeze reported.

The new revenue for LAUSD will mean lost income for nearby school districts -- also struggling with massive state budget cuts and declining revenue. The Torrance Unified School District will lose one tenth of its students and $9 million in state aid, board President Mark Steffen told the newspaper.

"It's really concerning,'' Steffen said. "Permit kids bring dollars into our schools. It just means more cuts, higher class sizes and less teachers.''

Parents taking advantage of better-performing schools more distant than their neighborhood LAUSD schools said they are devastated.

"I'm sick to my stomach. If I have to tell him (my son) he has to go back to an L.A. Unified school, he'll be devastated,'' Susie Rhodes, a Playa Del Rey resident with an 8-year-old son in a neighboring school, told the Daily Breeze.

"I just did not like what I saw there,'' she said, referring to her neighborhood LAUSD school. "There's a huge difference in the care he receives now.''

Beverly Hills schools will lose nearly 950 LAUSD kids, but that district has already decided to cancel most out-of-district permits anyway.

Other South Bay schools that could potentially lose a substantial number of students, the Daily Breeze reported, include those in the Manhattan Beach Unified, El Segundo Unified and Wiseburn districts.

The newspaper reported that Los Angeles school officials have not yet decided how to tell parents. Still, the news is starting to get out on Internet message boards.

LAUSD officials say the district has $20 billion construction program recently improved its educational offerings and academic achievement. And they said parents should be attracted to pristine new schools provided by the district -- though there's only one new campus open and just four planned in the South Bay and Harbor area.

Under its new transfer policy, LAUSD will only grant permits to children who have one year to graduation or promotion at their non-LAUSD school, or to students whose parents work in other school districts.

Some students may get a reprieve, under a provision of the recently-enacted Race to the Top legislation, an analyst told the newspaper. The new federal law will make it easier for parents to transfer kids out of the state's 1,000 lowest-performing schools.