King says response to LAUSD financial issues underway for board
Mike Szymanski | January 20, 2016
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Los Angeles Unified’s new superintendent, Michelle King, said today the district is working on a response to a review panel‘s examination of district finances, and ideas would go before the school board next month.
“It’s a huge concern of mine,” King said today, during a 2 1/2 minute interview with LA School Report. “I have work groups working on it now. We are looking to come to the board mid-to late February with some thoughts and recommendations for our consideration.”
The interview came as King walked to a waiting car after visiting Windsor Hills Elementary Math/Science Aerospace Magnet, a school she once attended. She was racing to a meeting and had little time to spare.
Does she plan on bold initiatives and changes since taking the helm of the district where she worked for 31 years?
“Interesting, that’s a question I’m asked a lot,” King said. “The bold initiative is getting my kids to graduation and to college. That’s for me the number one thing.”
Inside the school, she asked the students how many want to go to college. All raised their hands.
“That’s why I asked that question in the classroom because sometimes people don’t want to believe that all kids really want to go to college,” King said. “That’s why I want to see for myself and that’s what they want. They want choice and opportunity, so for me it’s getting kids to that graduation, and more importantly for choice and opportunity to be able to compete and be productive citizens in our communities and to be able to come back and give to their communities.”
But what specifically can she do? What could accomplish that?
“So, with my team and my working with the board, I will work on a strategic plan in terms of coming out with that,” King said. “I believe in that being a collaborative effort, because you got to get buy in, to be able to move an agenda.”
Despite working closely with both of her two most recent predecessors, she appears more in the mold of Ramon Cortines than John Deasy, in her willingness to take a more collaborative approach with the school board.
“Part of my listening tour, going out and talking to community schools and principals, is to hear, listen and gather information and be able to inform me to develop that plan,” said King, who is touring schools for feedback and input even after 30 years of experience in the district.
In the school, students showed the how they were learning about cell structure, using Play-Doh and egg yolks in a science experiment. King asked students some questions about what they were learning and how they were using their iPads to supplement their learning.
In the interview, which lasted as long as the science experiment, King said, “The best part of this job is when you have opportunity to go in and you can look at the faces of the kids and just see the excitement in their eyes, it inspires me and helps me to know that the work we are doing is important to our youth and when you go into a class like we are just in, they’re just so eager to learn and share with me what they’re doing, it just blows me away. The two teachers in that classroom, sharing fourth and fifth grade science class, that model is incredible.”
She said some teachers have asked her why it has taken the board so long to promote her to the top spot, when she seemed like such an obvious choice all along.
“It’s a journey for me and I think things happen at the right time and now I think it’s my time, and it’s the right time for the district and we’re really poised to do great things here,” King said. “I am a product of this district and a longtime educator here. It’s about family. And I’m part of the family, and when you have family relationships you know, it’s different sometimes than when you’re not part of the family.”