LA board passes mea­sure to limit char­ter schools

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY CHRISTO­PHER WE­BER


The Los An­ge­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict Board of Ed­u­ca­tion on Tues­day ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion ask­ing the state to put new char­ter schools on hold while the state stud­ies their ef­fects. The board ap­proved the res­o­lu­tion 5-1 af­ter unan­i­mously rat­i­fy­ing a new con­tract for teach­ers that ended a six-day strike.

A few hun­dred pro­test­ers out­side the meet­ing op­posed plac­ing lim­its on the growth of char­ters – pri­vately op­er­ated, mostly non-union pub­lic schools.

The teach­ers union pushed the char­ter res­o­lu­tion, which isn’t part of the con­tract. The dis­trict agreed to put it be­fore the board as a ges­ture of good faith.

Only the state can call a mora­to­rium or change char­ter laws.

Op­po­nents say char­ters draw away stu­dents from tra­di­tional pub­lic schools and the money that goes with them.

Al­though the con­tract re­ceived fi­nal ap­proval, a re­port from an over­sight agency said the deal may not be sus­tain­able be­cause of the long-term fi­nan­cial out­look of the na­tion’s sec­ond-largest school dis­trict.

Be­fore the board voted, mem­ber Nick Melvoin ac­knowl­edged it would be dif­fi­cult but said the con­tract showed that both sides can work to­gether.

“It’s up to us, col­lec­tively, to make it sus­tain­able,” he said, ad­ding that the board and la­bor must work to get more state fund­ing.

The Los An­ge­les County Of­fice of Ed­u­ca­tion re­leased an anal­y­sis hours be­fore the board voted on the agree­ment, which pro­vides pay raises and a com­mit­ment to re­duce class sizes over four years.

Ap­proval of the con­tract would re­quire “de­tailed fis­cal sta­bi­liza­tion plan” that ad­dresses how it will pay for in­creased salaries while keep­ing up its min­i­mum re­serves, ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis from the ed­u­ca­tion of­fice that over­sees the bud­gets of school sys­tems in the county.

“Based on the dis­trict’s own fi­nan­cial anal­y­sis, it is un­able to meet re­serve re­quire­ments in 2020-21 in­di­cat­ing the agree­ment is not sus­tain­able on an on­go­ing ba­sis,” the county re­port said.

The school dis­trict is pro­ject­ing a half-bil­lion- dol­lar deficit this bud­get year and has bil­lions ob­li­gated for pen­sion pay­ments and health cov­er­age for re­tired teach­ers.

The county ed­u­ca­tion agency said the dis­trict should be able to make ad­just­ments in its bud­get.

The 30,000 mem­bers of United Teach­ers Los An­ge­les al­ready ap­proved the agree­ment, which runs through 2022. Teach­ers re­turned to work Jan. 23 af­ter walk­ing picket lines for six days.

Dis­trict Su­per­in­ten­dent Austin Beut­ner said at the start of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing that “ev­ery nickel” is ac­counted for and that the dis­trict will have to rely on prom­ises in the gov­er­nor’s bud­get as well as seek “ad­di­tional sources of fund­ing.”

“It re­flects some­thing we can all live with,” he said of the con­tract.

Beut­ner did not ad­dress the county re­port but re­peated pre­vi­ous warn­ings about fi­nan­cial trou­bles.

In ad­di­tion to vot­ing on the con­tract, the school board will con­sider a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on state of­fi­cials to sup­port a mora­to­rium on char­ter schools.

A few hun­dred pro­test­ers out­side school dis­trict head­quar­ters Tues­day op­posed plac­ing lim­its on the growth of char­ters, which are pri­vately op­er­ated, mostly non-union pub­lic schools.

Op­po­nents say char­ters draw away stu­dents and the money that goes with them.

The char­ter res­o­lu­tion, pushed by the union, is not part of the con­tract. LA Uni­fied agreed to put it be­fore the board as part of a broader com­mit­ment.

The dis­trict spans Los An­ge­les, all or parts of 31 smaller cities, and sev­eral un­in­cor­po­rated ar­eas of Los An­ge­les County. County of­fices of ed­u­ca­tion are re­quired, among other du­ties, to en­sure the fis­cal sol­vency of school districts.

Los An­ge­les ed­u­ca­tors headed back to work a day af­ter Den­ver teach­ers voted to go on strike af­ter more than a year of ne­go­ti­a­tions. Colorado teach­ers have the right to strike, but state of­fi­cials could de­lay the walk­out by up to 180 days.

In Oak­land, teach­ers will vote this week whether to strike amid their con­tract ne­go­ti­a­tions, which hinge partly on a de­mand for smaller class sizes.

ALLEN J. SCHABEN Los An­ge­les Times

Myrna Cas­tre­jon, pres­i­dent and CEO of Cal­i­for­nia Char­ter Schools As­so­ci­a­tion, speaks as hun­dreds of char­ter sup­port­ers turn out to protest as LAUSD Board mem­bers passed a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on state of­fi­cials to sup­port a mora­to­rium on new char­ter schools at a Los An­ge­les Board of Ed­u­ca­tion meet­ing Tues­day.

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