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JUST IN: Plan to use ‘Need Index’ to go before LAUSD board

LA School Report | May 1, 2014

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Highest Need Map*UPDATED
In a surprise move, LA Unified school board will consider a resolution that supports the use of an alternative formula, known as the “Student Need Index,” in deciding how to distribute school funds throughout the district.

LA School Report has learned that Monica Garcia and Board President Richard Vladovic have agreed to co-sponsor a resolution to put before the board at its next meeting, on May 13. Their agreement came a day after his office met with student activists who had collected more than 4,300 petition signatures. (Read story here).

Many of the highest-needs schools centered primarily in south and east Los Angeles are in Vladovic’s own district, which stretches from downtown to Long Beach. A large number are also in Garcia’s district.

Chris Torres, Vladovic’s chief of staff, said Garcia agreed to sponsor the resolution, and Vladovic then signed on as a co-sponsor.

Developed by the Advancement Project along with two community groups, the Community Coalition and InnerCityStruggles, the index establishes a new method of rating schools by need, based on a variety of factors including neighborhood conditions that can affect the lives of students, like gun injuries, access to childcare and asthma rates.

Superintendent John Deasy, who has presented the board a draft budget, congratulated the community groups for their efforts but said the motion from Garcia and Vladovic is unnecessary because the district is already considering several poverty factors for the 2014-2015 budget.

“This is work that was done by the district over a year ago, and we’ve used a similar formula to identify these areas already,” Deasy told LA School Report.

The resolution comes as the board continues to debate how to allocate over $830 million made available by the state through the new Local Control Funding Formula. The LCFF specifies that the money must go to high-needs students; those in foster care, English Language Learners and low-income students.  Exactly how the new money is distributed is what the debate is all about.

The teachers union has been silent on the index. The union’s incoming president, Alex Caputo-Pearl has asked for a double-digit pay raise, regardless of where a teacher works.  Board members in districts with fewer high-needs students, such as Tamar Galatzan, could take issue with the formula, for the possibility that it could siphon money from other districts.

Galatzan’s office declined to comment until gaining a better understanding of the resolution.

*Correction: Alex Caputo-Pearl publicly asked for double-digit pay raise for teachers, not 7 percent as was reported in an earlier version of this story. We regret the error.

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