Cortines proposing to overhaul LA Unified Education Service Centers
Vanessa Romo | March 24, 2015
Superintendent Ramon Cortines is at it again: More restructuring!
This time he is proposing an overhaul of LA Unified’s Education Service Centers, regional resource offices that facilitate school operations, implement directives from the board at the school level, and serve as parent outreach centers. The plan includes an expansion of the centers to six from five regional offices.
Earlier this month, Cortines informed the school board he intends re-draw the ESC borders to cover more “geographically based” areas for the 2015-16 school year, and eliminate the Intensive Support and Innovation Center that worked across the district.
The ISIC office was created under former Superintendent John Deasy in an effort to provide more targeted services for students with unique needs, everything from special needs services to gifted and talented instruction. The district’s pilot schools were also placed under the purview of ISIC. In all, it now serves 149 schools and approximately 100,000 students throughout LA Unified.
It is unclear how Cortines intends to provide these services within the local ESCs, whether each area center will hire new coordinators or if those duties will be taken over by existing administrators. The district did not respond to requests for comment.
Regional Superintendent Tommy Chang has been at the helm of ISIC since his appointment by Deasy, but is leaving the district at the end of the year to take over as superintendent of Boston Public Schools.
Cortines’ plan is not final; it requires a vote by board to go forward.
In a letter to the board, Cortines said, “While I understand the thinking behind the creation of a non-geographically-based ESC like the ISIC, I believe the District’s current organization creates unnecessary complications for principals and parents.”
One problem under the existing structure, he says, is that “some schools on the same campus may report to different ESCs, which can lead to confusion when issues arise that impact the entire campus.” Dismantling ISIC, he said, solves that issue.
He also argued that the reorganization would produce a more equitable distribution of students and schools among the ESCs by splitting the North office into two service centers, Northeast and Northwest. The new map would also create two smaller ESCs in the southeast and central regions of the district, two of the highest needs areas within LA Unified.
“The improved balance of students and schools among ESCs would provide each center with a more manageable span of control,” Cortines said.
* Corrects earlier version that said a vote by the board is required. It is not.