Board to consider pair of resolutions to expand successful schools
Mike Szymanski | April 11, 2016
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Members of the LA Unified school board are taking the lead in identifying, encouraging and replicating successful schools with two resolutions that will be discussed at Tuesday’s board meeting.
One, sponsored by Monica Garcia and Ref Rodriguez, called Offering Families More – Promoting, Celebrating and Replicating Success Across LAUSD, asks that the district identify best strategies to replicate high-performing schools.
The other, sponsored by Monica Ratliff, Richard Vladovic and Rodriguez, titled Supporting Quality Educational Options for Students and Families Through the Development of Magnet Schools, asks for the district to break the backlog of applications for new magnet school programs and start approving more.
Both resolutions will ask Superintendent Michelle King to act within a short period of time to figure out how to duplicate the best schools in the district.
“These resolutions happened completely parallel to each other and yet they have some great connections because we are talking about how to replicate best practices,” Rodriguez said. “We do not have an incubator of ideas or innovation, and replicating best practices is one of the common things both of these resolutions propose.”
Garcia said in an emailed statement: “I am excited that the board is interested in being more intentional and strategic on resourcing and creating success. I hope there is a board majority that wants to be public about their support for a superintendent Plan of Action to increase achievement, creates excellence and supports equity and high-quality schools in every community.”
Garcia said her resolution involves all the different learning models, including dual language, linked learning, pilots and small-themed schools. She said, “My resolution is about creating diverse options for families to choose the district, stay in the district and celebrate 100 percent graduation with this district.”
King stated when she took over in January that identifying and encouraging successful schools was one of her top goals. The district is seeking to boost enrollment and graduation rates as well as stave off a predicted $450 million budget deficit in three years.
The Development of Magnet Schools resolution, which Ratliff asked to fast-track for a vote Tuesday, points out there are 22 applications for magnet schools in the 2017-2018 school year and 47 other schools interested in opening such programs, but the Office of Student Integration Services is “unable to support additional interested schools in their efforts to open a magnet program.”
There are now 210 magnet schools in the district serving 67,000 students, and most of those have higher testing performance levels than traditional and charter schools.
LA School Report was told there is some fine-tuning going on with some parts of the resolutions, including financial implications, but both will give the superintendent some direction to explore what it would take to get them done. The magnet schools resolution asks that King’s staff come up with addressing the backlog in a report to the board by June 30.
The Offering Families More resolution emphasizes successful community schools and asks for the district to consider more resources to continue similar programs. This resolution gives King and her staff 60 days to investigate “strategies to replicate high-performing district schools in areas of high need and to seek outside support for the funding of such replication.”
That resolution may look like it could pave the way to make the school board more amenable to plans from Great Public Schools Now and other groups looking to increase the number of high-quality schools in LA.
“It is time that the district consider how to partner with philanthropic organizations,” Rodriguez said. “I hope that this would be a vehicle to do great collaborations.”
Rodriguez said he contacted Ratliff’s office late Friday to join her resolution involving magnet schools. “It was totally by coincidence, but ultimately both will be great for the district,” he said.
The school board meets at the 333 S. Beaudry Ave. headquarters at 1 p.m. Tuesday. It will be broadcast live.