LAUSD diverts $27 million toward schools — and looks to move employees to local offices
Mike Szymanski | May 2, 2017
Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.
More than $27 million is being funneled from the downtown LA Unified headquarters to local school districts, and the district is looking to move more employees out of their main office building.
“We are decentralizing and putting more resources closer to the learners in the local districts,” Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson told the Budget, Facilities, and Audit Committee in a report Tuesday morning.
The redistribution of money is a key component of Superintendent Michelle King’s plan to address projected budget deficits, and it’s part of the recommendations involving budget decentralization based on suggestions from a 2015 Independent Financial Review.
The superintendent distributed $22.8 million to the six regional local districts specifically to help with English learner and long-term English learner programs. Each district will decide how it will use the money, Gipson said.
According to the report, $4.1 million in clerical support was transferred to school sites from the downtown Beaudry headquarters. That means 116 schools have received additional help and every school will have at least two clerical positions, an administrative staff person, and a full-time office technician, said Cheryl Simpson, the Budget Services and Financial Planning director.
And $680,000 is going to local districts to pay for five parent educator coaches to help parents at school sites.
In a separate report, staff explained how the district is realigning administrative staff at the central office. Last year, King had asked department leaders to detail how they would cut their staff by 30 percent. Tuesday’s report showed that the number of students per employee increased from 7.8 to 1 in 2007-08 to a high of 9.4 to 1 in 2013-14. This year, the district has 9.3 students per employee.
The 29-story school headquarters at 333 S. Beaudry Ave. has 3,718 employees with salaries totaling $477.7 million – about 3.5 percent of the total budget, said Earl Perkins, associate superintendent, Division of District Operation.
The central office now has 434 vacant positions, and 139 of those jobs will not be renewed. The other 295 positions represent about $35 million in salaries.
The remaining positions can’t remain vacant for various reasons, according to the report, because they are funded by grants or bond funds for a specific program or are critical to support programs even after the superintendent’s 30 percent reduction.
The report suggested that 1,350 staffers could be relocated to district locations.
One of the options on the table is selling or renting out parts of the downtown Beaudry building, but Facilities Executive Director Mark Hovatter said the district is restricted by how much of the building can be rented out until 2022.
The district owes $132.4 million for the building and pays $13 million a year to remain there.
Board member Mónica Ratliff said she wasn’t interested in the district moving out of the building necessarily, but said, “It’s a little sterile and cold, and we are a school district representing children and youth and there should be children and youth around as much as possible. That builds community and relationships and compassion.”
Board member Ref Rodriguez noted that some of the increases in central administrative staff originally were to help with an increase in restorative justice and A-G programs.
“But we need to know where all employees are and how we are spending those dollars,” Rodriguez said. “And every once in a while we need to revisit those numbers.”
* This article has been updated to correct the students-per-employee information.