In Partnership with 74

Deasy releases draft of LAUSD’s next budget, with new money

Vanessa Romo | April 4, 2014

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Superintendent John Deasy

Superintendent John Deasy

LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy made public today the first draft of a $6.8 billion budget for the 2014-15 school year, a presentation that offered the first glimpse of how the new Local Control Funding Formula is going to work.

The budget will be formally presented to the school board on Tuesday, after which the six current members are expected to engage in a lively debate over how to tweak, change or blow-up Deasy’s initial foray into this year’s budget negotiations. At the same time, interest groups around the city who have already been lobbying the members, are expected to intensify their efforts.

The district is required to have its final version in shape — the Local Control Accountability Plan — for the board’s final approval on June 17.

The budget proposal includes spending plans for an extra $332 million in state funds, which has been the object of intense lobbying from interest groups because much of that money is earmarked to serve students in high needs categories: those from low-income families, English learners and foster youth.

That additional money includes $137 million above the state’s standard per pupil spending.

The district current serves 11,604 children in foster case and 154,110 who are English learners. Overall, 80 percent of all LA Unified students are from low-income families.

While Deasy’s proposal reflects more money for lots of programs and people, including more teachers, nurses, librarians and counselors — it’s probably not enough to satisfy most.

For example, the budget includes money for 1,210 new jobs, many of them teaching positions. Next year, the budget provides for another 1,672 new positions and 534 in the year after that, for a three-year total of 3,417.

It remains to be seen whether those totals will satisfy the various unions whose members are LA Unified employees. UTLA, for example, has made rehiring all teachers laid off prior to the 2008 recession a major objective with a new collective bargaining agreement about to be negotiated.

In a letter to the school board members that accompanied a package of documents that provides details of the budget proposal, Deasy said, “While we are all happy with the new funds, I remind all that even with these new funds we do not have nearly enough to accomplish what we desire or to fully provide youth with a justice-based education in California. Not by a long shot! But it is a start.”

Under his plan, one of the largest allocations of the new money — $85 million — will go directly to schools, distributed in proportion to the target student population. Schools can autonomously decide how to spend that money within the spirit of the funding formula, and they have no impact on additional services provided by the district.

A group of 71 pilot and network partner schools already use the per pupil funding formula so they will continue to operate their budgets independent of the district’s guidelines. And, with the exception of their share of the $85 million, they are opted out of other districtwide initiatives.

Here are a few line item examples from the budget:

  • $9.9 million for foster youth. Next year, the district plans to open a series of Family Source Centers and to increase the student counselor/psychiatric worker to student ratio to 1 per 100, which mean 75 new full time employee. Currently the district employes three full time foster care case workers, for more than 8,000 foster youth.
  • 15 new librarians and 192 library aides who would work a 3 hour/day
  • 60 new middle school teachers, a result of reducing math and English Language Arts class sizes by two students
  • 70 new high school teachers using the same formula
  • 15 new nurses
  • 25 new custodial staff member

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