With a record amount of state and federal funding to support COVID-19 relief efforts, the Unified School Board of Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 22, adopted an operating budget of $ 13.8 billion for the new fiscal year which begins July 1 – a 62% increase over the current year’s budget.
The board, which plans to eventually receive $ 5.2 billion in pandemic relief funds, has approved spending of at least $ 2.1 billion over the next fiscal year to fund the path towards the takeover of the district. This plan will, among other things, allow the district to hire a full-time nurse for each school and more staff such as psychiatric social workers to deal with mental health, as well as additional reading and math specialists and assistants. educational programs to help pupils in difficulty.
The board also committed additional funds to invest more in community schools that provide health and social services, in addition to other resources, to students and families. The school board voted last week to add 30 more community schools over three years, bringing the net total to 70.
What the board did not do – despite calls throughout the year from some students, educators, and community members – was to cut back on the Los Angeles School Police Department further. .
Board member Tanya Ortiz Franklin offered to cut 32 currently vacant positions in the department and reallocate the roughly $ 4 million in savings to other areas of the budget, but she did not. managed to get enough votes.
Last year, amid a nationwide movement of racial justice advocates calling for funding for law enforcement agencies, the board voted 4-3 to cut the budget by about a third of the LASPD, which has resulted in a reduction in the police force. In February, the council also voted to remove officers from campuses.
Ortiz Franklin said eliminating the remaining vacancies in the department this year would indicate the board is “responsive to the past 400 years of institutionalized racism in this country.”
But given the actions the board had taken previously, board members Jackie Goldberg and Nick Melvoin said they wanted to see the impacts of those earlier decisions on school safety when campuses fully reopen in the fall before decide on further reductions. Board members George McKenna and Scott Schmerelson, who support the school police, also opposed Ortiz Franklin’s proposal. His proposal ultimately failed in a 3-3 vote, with Goldberg abstaining.
As board members deliberated on the budget in the boardroom, around 100 students, parents, educators and other community members rallied outside to demand schools without font.
Although the proposal to further cut the LASPD budget was not passed, the council on Tuesday approved several additional changes to the district’s overall spending plan, including adding $ 40 million to the preschool budget. to reflect a recent decision to expand preschool services over the next three years, and a proposal to add an additional $ 56.7 million to a plan to support success for black students.
As for the Path to Recovery plan, the budget the board approved on Tuesday will fund:
- COVID-19 health and safety measures, including testing, contact tracing and vaccinations, purchasing personal protective equipment, and increasing supervisory staff to keep schools clean and disinfected;
- Services to fill learning gaps. In addition to hiring hundreds of other reading and math teachers and assistants to work with students through to grade 3 as part of the district’s Primary Promise initiative, the district will offer private lessons and classes. in small groups, summer courses and enrichment programs, as well as credit recovery programs. Investments will also be made to strengthen online learning and to support schools in the Humanizing Education for Equitable Transformation network that serve large populations of underachieving black students;
- Increase in mental health services; and
- Additional supports for students in special education.
Measures such as assigning a nurse to each school, reducing class sizes and continuing to invest in community schools were actions that the district had agreed to as part of its plan. negotiations with United Teachers Los Angeles during the 2019 teachers’ strike.
While much of the conversation over the past few months has focused on reimagining public education and how the district could spend the $ 5.2 billion in pandemic relief funds To provide the services students need, Superintendent Austin Beutner also warned that hiring the necessary staff would be difficult, given the shortage of qualified candidates. In some cases, fewer people graduate from accreditation programs each year than is required for state school districts.
âLos Angeles Unified Schools will have record funding amounts for each of the next school years. â¦ Yes, more money would allow schools to hire more reading teachersâ¦ if there were more to hire, âBeutner said last month.
Late Tuesday, after the council passed the budget, Beutner noted in a statement that schools would spend more than $ 24,000 per student, more than $ 7,000 more per student than three years ago.
âThis budget is a statement on the values ââof our organization, and it puts students first,â he said in a statement. âSchools will see the biggest increase in the number of teachers, counselors and guardians in over a generation. All will provide services for the direct benefit of the students.
The 2021-2022 budget also reflects a recent board decision to more than double the amount of money distributed to schools based on a student equity needs index. The $ 700 million in SENI funds are flexible, meaning schools will have more say in how the money is spent.
Although the board passed its budget this week in a final 6-1 vote, the article could come back in August for an update. District officials are still waiting for the state to finalize its own spending plan, which could impact LAUSD’s budget.