LAUSD board hears final arguments on the budget
Vanessa Romo | June 17, 2014
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In a surprising move, the LA Unified Board of Education today moved swiftly through multiple motions that had been expected to be quite contentious. Most board meetings these day, go well into the dinner hour.
The highlight, aside from the meeting lasting less than two and a half hours, was a parade of speakers making their final pleas for funding pet programs in the 2014-2015 budget. The budget is scheduled to be finalized and approved by the board on June 24.
The speakers were students, parents, teachers and union officials, including the in-coming UTLA president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, whose microphone was shut off when he exceeded the two-minute time limit. In general, they all offered congratulations if the board is funding programs they liked and criticism if the funding fell short of expectations.
In any event, the $7.8 billion budget, as devised by Superintendent John Deasy, is virtually set, barring any last minute changes, and it’s doubtful that anything anyone said today will make much difference.
In more routine action, the board approved Bennett Kayser’s resolution to reappoint Stuart Magruder, the Bond Oversight Committee member who was essentially booted off the panel in a campaign lead by board member Tamar Galatzan.
She had accused Magruder of “overstepping his bounds” on the committee and temporarily succeeded in blocking him from serving another two-year term.
Today, the board approved a measure to reinstate him, 4-2, with President Richard Vladovic casting the swing vote. Board members Monica Garcia and Galatzan voted against the motion.
Magruder represents the LA chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on the BOC. He has been an outspoken critic of the district’s iPad program and the use of bond funds to pay for the devices.
This time around, Galatzan, refrained from speaking out against Magruder, but she called on Deasy to initiate an annual review of the BOC as required by a 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the district and the committee.
“It’s my understanding, after many conversations with [General Counsel David] Holmquist, that this has never been done,” she said.
Kayser postponed another resolution to increase funding for Early Education by $44 million over the next three years. His motion would earmark $10 million for the upcoming school year, $14 million in 2015-2016 and $20 million in 2016-2017.
Kayser’s Chief of Staff Sarah Bradshaw told LA School Report the board member will continue push Deasy to find funding for the program in the weeks to come.
“We have until June 30, and there are pockets of money,” Bradshaw said. “We’ve had the superintendent find $10 million in a matter of hours.”
In that spirit, Deasy offered to restore a portion of funding for the family literacy program, that was added to Kayser’s early education resolution.
Deasy committed to finding $500,000 as a “temporary bridge” to continue the program through 2014-15. Kayser’s amendment called for $750,000.