Monday, April 07, 2008

You've heard we're offering space to Charter schools, here's why...

This entry is intended to give you some background about why the District has made these offers and what we are doing to protect the instructional programs currently operating at our schools.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has offered space on its campuses to charter schools. As you may know, charter schools are publicly funded schools that are freed from many of the regulations governing traditional public schools in exchange for greater accountability for student achievement.

In 2000, voters approved Proposition 39, a statewide ballot measure that lowered the threshold for passing local bonds. That measure also included language that requires school districts to identify and allocate space on their campuses to charter schools serving a minimum of 80 students within the districts¹ boundaries. Charter schools must submit a formal application each year to request space under Proposition 39.

While the District has endeavored to make space available for charter schools since 2000, the California Charter Schools Association and two charter operators filed suit against the District alleging that the District violated state law by not providing adequate facilities for charter school students. In February, after many months of negotiation, the Board of Education approved a proposal to settle the lawsuit.

The District agreed to offer classroom space to all charter schools that apply, as Proposition 39 requires. The settlement protects traditional public schools by outlining the criteria for placing charter schools on District campuses. Specifically, the District does not need to offer space to a charter school where doing so would:

-Require a District school to covert to or remain on a multi-track calendar
-Require District students to involuntarily ride a bus ­ restrict a District school from maintaining full-day kindergarten
­-Require a District school to force teachers to travel from classroom to classroom (unless the space offered to charter schools recognizes that charter school teachers
might have to travel as well)
-­Restrict the ability of the District to maintain certain programs (i.e. parent centers, learning centers, school based health clinics, special education rooms, computer and science labs, multimedia and technology rooms, textbook rooms, and early education and adult programs.)

In addition, according to the settlement, ³Each District and charter school shall be able to utilize space on secondary schools necessary to implement and operate small learning communities, including space for teacher planning and meetings and administration for small learning communities.²

This year the District received a record 55 Proposition 39 applications for approximately 17,000 seats, three times the number requested last year. In recent months, the District has been working to identify space on all public school campuses to accommodate this seat need. Last week, with input from local district administrators, the Superintendent approved a list of charter school matches. Charter schools that received offers will have until May 1,
2008 to make a decision.

In the event a charter is interested in an offer, the Facilities Division will coordinate with Local District staff and the corresponding District principal to schedule a visit to the District campus in order for schools to become familiar with each other and their programs. Specific discussions related to use of shared space, campus modifications, and general co-locations issues will occur after the charter officially accepts the offer. Campus modifications can include fencing to separate the schools, creating new entrances, and the addition of sanitary buildings ­ paid for by local bond measures which specifically earmark funds to assist the district to implement Proposition 39.

Most co-location configurations were determined when site reviews occurred at campuses prior to the extension of offers with the input of the principal and Local District staff. While in most cases, this is a new change for our campuses, I hope that our schools view this as an opportunity to share best practices, create instructional partnerships and learn from one another.

This process has been incredibly taxing on all of us, from parents, community members, principals, local district staff to Superintendent Brewer. While I understand our obligation to provide space for public charter school students, I strongly encouraged the Superintendent to consider the instructional priorities at each District school and work to ensure that locating a charter school on the District campus does not disrupt those priorities.

I understand that the addition of charter schools on District campuses may be of concern to you, but I want to reiterate that the District is mandated by state law to provide space to charter schools. As we move forward, I want to assure you that the safety of all students is one of my main priorities and that the District is doing all that it can to ensure the academic success and safety of both our traditional and charter school students.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Education Budget Crisis

This past January, Governor Schwarzenegger announced a projected $14.5 billion deficit in the state budget for 2008-2009. As a result, the Governor has proposed $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education funding. That figure translates into a staggering loss of $460 million in revenue for LAUSD in the upcoming school year, and the cuts could worsen after the Governor's May budget revise.

Needless to say these proposed cuts could have a disastrous impact on the District's ability to provide a quality education to our students. The proposed cuts are equivalent to LAUSD closing 22 high schools, or shutting down all District schools and offices for nearly two weeks.

The proposed budget cuts are unacceptable and would have a tremendous impact in the classroom. The cuts come at a particularly bad time when the District is seeing improvements in academic achievement and is embarking on some key reform initiatives.

In recent months, the Superintendent and his cabinet have been working to develop budget recommendations to propose to the Board of Education. Superintendent Brewer will present his budget recommendations to the Board after the Governor presents his May budget revise.

For more information about the budget impact on LAUSD, please visit ttp://

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I would like to congratulate Venice High School teacher Diane Pollock for being selected the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom Vocational Agriculture Teacher of the Year!

Diane has displayed a tremendous commitment to rebuilding and maintaining the Venice High School Garden Program, educating both high school students and the surrounding community.