LA board passes measure to limit charter schools
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.
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.