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Parents, community groups rally for a say in LA Unified budget

Vanessa Romo | March 18, 2014

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CLASS rally at LA Unified

CLASS rally at LA Unified

The battle to influence the Los Angeles Unified School board on how to spend Governor Jerry Brown’s new Local Control Funding Formula budget boost and statewide tax revenues for education continues to rage on.

Parents, educators and community organizers rallied outside of LA Unified headquarters today before a special school board meeting primarily focussed on budget issues.

Inside, members of Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) presented the six-member board with a petition containing more than 5,000 signatures by families and teachers across L.A.  “demanding that $1 billion in extra state funding over the next seven years goes to help low-income students, English learners and foster youth.”

The petition was bound by rubber bands, about seven inches thick, and made a loud thunk as speakers dramatically dropped sections of it on the speaker’s podium.

A graduate of Manual Arts High School who said he’d had “a  lot of emotional problems” when he was a student there, suggested the district hire several restorative justice counselors.

Several parents called for the district to close teacher jails and open school libraries  instead.

Caroline Horton, an eduction aide at Crenshaw High School, said the district “is being wasteful twice” when it puts teachers in “teacher jail.”

“You’re paying them to do nothing and then you’re paying a substitute to do their job, too,” she said.

School board member Monica Ratliff tried to manage the protesters’ expectations.

“I know it sounds like a lot of money,” she said, “but it’s really not that much when you really look at it.”

LA Unified will receive $110.5 million in extra funds next year and another $140 million in 2015-16. That money is earmarked specifically for English Language learners, students who receive free or reduced lunch, and foster care students.

Ratliff said a one percent raise for teachers, who have not had a salary increase in seven years and agreed to take on extra furlough days during the district’s recent budget belt tightening, would cost the district $40 million

“We’re not talking about a large amount of money,” she said. “It’s really important that we get that message out there, otherwise people will be really disappointed.”

In a statement after the board meeting, member Monica Garcia said:

“I accept the thousands of signatures and acknowledge voices that have demanded investment, quality and justice from LAUSD for decades. Every child in California deserves more investment and support for their academic journey. Our students with greatest needs deserve our greatest support. We must embrace the opportunity to lead and get to 100% graduation.”



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