Education

A 'borderless' school district with lots of choices: LA's superintendent outlines priorities

Michelle King, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, speaks during a town hall meeting at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park on May 11, 2016.
Michelle King, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, speaks during a town hall meeting at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park on May 11, 2016.
Kyle Stokes/KPCC

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In a decade, if Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King has her way, she would run a “borderless district” where students can choose any school in the city they wish to attend.

In the nearer term, King said Wednesday, she wants L.A. Unified to focus on offering an expanded portfolio of school choices, from magnet programs to dual language immersion schools — and yes, charter schools must also play a role, King reiterated.

King has kept a low profile during her first five months on the job, doing as much listening as agenda-setting in her public appearances.

While still light on specific policy details, the list of priorities King shared at a town hall for parents at Gage Middle School in Huntington Park on Wednesday reflects broadly how the new superintendent hopes to make her mark on the district. 

Among the priorities she listed Wednesday:

King also listed fiscal stability, high school graduation rates, college readiness, equitable funding for high-needs schools, expansion of arts offerings and creating new career and technical education programs as priorities.

The superintendent also repeated a call to heal what she termed a "broken relationship" between charter schools and traditional district campuses.

"We're building a portfolio of schools, of options for parents and kids," King said — and, she added, "when I talk about different types of instructional pathways, charters are another model."

She noted the district had sent out "save-the-dates" for a June summit where charter school leaders and traditional public school educators could open a more fruitful, less combative dialogue.