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Passion project resolutions, budget overview, and new charter schools: What’s up for LAUSD’s board on Tuesday

Mike Szymanski | June 9, 2017

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Ruben Alonzo’s Excelencia Charter Academy is coming before the school board Tuesday.

It’s the last regular LA Unified school board meeting before two newcomers are sworn in next month, and it’s a full agenda that includes some pet project resolutions, new charter schools, and a look at the district budget.

The school board going to hear details of the new budget, which will be voted on at a special meeting on June 20. And there are some last resolutions being introduced by board president Steve Zimmer and Mónica Ratliff before they leave the board.

Ratliff, who was known for initiating a lot of resolutions, is proposing one to recognize National Night Out and supporting LGBTQ Pride month. Zimmer is a co-signer of the Pride resolution, along with Móníca Garcia and Ref Rodriguez. Zimmer is also introducing a resolution with Rodriguez that endorses community schools.

Zimmer also initiated a proposition about career ladder programs for teachers in special education and other subject areas that are facing teacher shortages, which has been an ongoing concern of his while serving on the board. He is also asking for a districtwide commitment for bilingual education for all students, which was one of his long-term campaign platforms.

The board is going to be asked to approve the $16.7 million needed for a unified enrollment launch planned for fall, as well as be asked for approving other expenses such as:

  •        $10 million for special education in the district’s Head Start program
  •       $9.5 million more for the district’s MiSiS school administration computer program
  •        $138 million for redesign and modernization of Venice High School    
  •       During closed session, the board will have a conference with labor negotiators from the various unions.

Four new independent charter schools are up for consideration by the district, and the district’s Charter Division has recommended approval for them all. However, some charter watchers are concerned that before the school board tilts to a 4-3 pro-charter majority board in July, these schools may be in jeopardy.

The new charter schools include:

  • Excelencia Charter Academy to be located in East Los Angeles serving 120 students in TK and first grade in the first year. It will have a two-teacher model and be built for English learners, according to Ruben Alonzo, who plans to open the school. A son of migrant farm workers who went to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said, “I’m only where I am because of a high bar that was set for me. When we set a high bar for all students and give them scaffolding to reach that high bar, that is when we’re giving our students the potential to succeed.”
  • Matrix for Success Academy serving 200 ninth- through 12th-grade students at three sites in South Los Angeles, Pico-Union, and Pacoima. Alfonso Paz and Cesar Lopez, already running APEX Charter Academy, plan to target high school dropouts and teen parents. Each site will have seven teachers and include students who are on probation or parole, foster youth and homeless. “This is what you need to do if you want to service the truly most vulnerable,” said Lopez, who emigrated to the United States from El Salvador when he was 14. “This is the opposite of cherry picking. We will find the kids who need the most help so that they won’t fall through the cracks ever again.”
  • TyAnthony Davis

    Vox Collegiate of Los Angeles, for 105 sixth-grade students in the first year in Watts, eventually serving sixth- through 12th-graders. TyAnthony Davis earned degrees from Harvard and Yale and taught in Fresno before deciding to open this school and said, “I want to spend that time fighting for children, providing them with an opportunity to develop their own voices as future leaders and advocates for themselves and their communities.”

  • The board will also be asked to renew a petition for an affiliated charter school in Tujunga. Plainview Academic Charter Academy serves 342 students TK to fifth grade.
  • Expansions are also being requested for KIPP Academy and Valley Charter schools, and district staff recommends approval for all the plans.

Among the other items on the agenda are recognitions for outgoing student board member Karen Calderon as well as retiring associate superintendent of district operations Earl Perkins, and for Cynthia Lim, executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability.

Tuesday’s school board meeting begins with closed session at 9 a.m. The open session, which is broadcast live, is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

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