Friday, August 31, 2007

Assembly & Senate Appropriations Committees pass LAUSD Facilities legislation

The Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees approved AB1014 (Bass) & SB121 (Romero) yesterday during their final official hearings of the year.

AB1014 (Bass) would revise the formula the State uses to allocate funding for construction and modernization of school facilities. The current formula used by the State overcorrects for small decreases in enrollment causing LAUSD to lose eligibility for state matching funds because it is experiencing declining enrollment in some areas of the District. The bill would authorize school districts to use an alternative enrollment projection formula that more accurately reflects the facilities needs of its students.

SB 121 (Romero) would amend current law to eliminate or reduce the requirement that schools districts receiving Operational Grants have at least 40% of their total enrollment on multi-track year-round schedules. To date, LAUSD’s new construction program has completed 67 new schools, allowing many campuses to return to a traditional calendar. If the law is not amended, LAUSD could lose up to $78 million per year once it falls below the 40% requirement.

The passage of these bills is crucial for the completion of the District’s mission of reducing overcrowding, returning all campuses to a traditional calendar, and providing a neighborhood school for all its students.

Both bills will now go to the floor of each House for a vote.

Healthy Families, Healthy Students?

On Tuesday, the Board of Education waded into a hefty discussion on health care. On its face, the resolution titled "Healthy Families, Healthy Students" and authored by several of my colleagues on the Board, was about ensuring that students have at least 20 minutes to eat lunch. In fact, it was really an effort to increase the hours that some 2,000 cafeteria workers from 3 ½ hours to 4 hours in order to make them eligible for health benefits. Board Member Tamar Galatzan and I voted against the resolution, which passed 5-2 and will cost the District $35 million annually. The truth is that the increase in hours will have no effect on the amount of time students have to eat lunch. What’s more, we already have plans – that we can afford – in place that move us to ensuring students have at least 20 minutes to eat their lunch.

The Board of Education recently adopted extended and multiple lunch periods as a strategy to increase students’ access to the cafeteria. We also began implementing the results of a Labor Organization Study which will increase 269 3 ½ -hour cafeteria worker positions to both five and six-hour positions. These and other operational changes will do more to increase the likelihood that our students have enough time to eat than a blanket increase in hours that disregards the individual needs of schools.

I absolutely understand my colleagues’ desire to provide health care to all our employees and I attempted to introduce an amendment that would have directed our negotiations team to work with the unions to provide scaled benefits for these part-time employees. Sadly, the Board voted down this amendment, leaving the Superintendent to present to the Board on September 4 an additional $35 million in cuts for this school year. Both the LA Times and the LA Daily News reported on this issue and the LA Times editorial board seems to agree that this was an irresponsible action.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Dear Friends,

Welcome to the new Canter Chronicle! I am incredibly excited to launch a blog to keep my constituents updated on issues facing the local schools, as well as events and updates that affect you and our students.

Come back here often as I will be updating the Canter Chronicle several times a week.