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Months after killing Title I plan, Kayser has almost the same idea

Michael Janofsky | January 20, 2014

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LA Unified board member Bennett Kayser

LA Unified board member Bennett Kayser

It’s not often that LA Unified board members Tamar Galatzan and Bennett Kayser agree, and Kayser’s abstention on a measure two months ago killed an effort by Galatzan that would have lowered the threshold for schools receiving federal dollars for low-income students.

Now, Kayser is returning to the board meeting tomorrow morning with a measure that appears similar to what he didn’t vote on in November. Discussion will commence, but no vote will occur until the Feb. 11 board meeting.

His motion — Creating Equitable Classrooms – seeks to bring back Title I dollars to any school in which 40 percent of students or more are from low-income families, starting in the 2014-2015 academic year. Federal Title I money is intended for extra learning resources and services.

Galatzan’s measure sought to lower the threshold to same 40 percent level. The cutoff was raised to 50 percent after federal education dollars were reduced by nine percent in 2011.

Why Kayser is offering this particular measure is unclear. Repeated efforts to seek comment from his office were unsuccessful.

Kayser says in his motion that LA Unified currently has more than 375,000 students in 600 schools who are eligible for Title I funding.

When the board considered Galatzan’s motion, which was co-sponsored by Monica Ratliff, the vote was, 3-3, with Steve Zimmer providing the third vote in favor. All three represent districts with mixed income levels. The dissenters were Board President Richard Vladovic, Monica Garcia and the late Marguerite LaMotte, whose districts include high poverty communities.

Kayser assured defeat when he chose not to vote.

“This is a really tough one,” he said at the time, explaining that his district would suffer no matter which side he took. Click here for a video clip of his reasoning.

The Galatzan-Ratliff proposal would have pushed back the line to 40 percent with three tiers of funding that increase with need: 40 to 50 percent, 50 to 65 percent and 65 to 100 percent.

As a result of the defeat, 23 schools that were in the 40 percent to 49 percent range lost between $160,000 and $600,000 each.

A staffer for another board member said Kayser’s plan includes different tiers but declined to discuss them, saying it was only proper that Kayser’s office discuss the details.

Only one other measure is listed on the board agenda for tomorrow, also from Kayser, asking that charter schools submit the same performance accountability information that other schools do.

The board has a number of issues to discuss in closed session, most of them dealing with labor contracts and legal matters.

Previous Posts: Kayser Abstention Dooms Effort to Spread Out Title 1 MoneyLA Unified Board will consider restoring Title I funding level.


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