In Partnership with 74

Ratliff has a plan for more school custodians but fewer police

Vanessa Romo | May 12, 2014

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today.

Monica Ratliff LAUSD

Monica Ratliff

Anyone attending a recent LA Unified School Board meeting has heard Monica Ratliff talk about “providing a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students” by boosting the district’s custodial staff. Tomorrow she’ll lay out her plan for doing it.

Item No. 47 on another loooooong agenda, represents Ratliff’s attempt to hire 108 new full-time custodial employees by cutting the budget currently earmarked to expanding the district School Police Department. (Supporting documents for the agenda items can be found here.)

Superintendent John Deasy’s proposed budget for the next three years increases school police funding by $13.02 million, using Supplemental and Concentration dollars. Under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) this is money specifically intended to benefit low-income students, foster youth and English learners.

But Ratliff hopes to persuade three of her colleagues to block Deasy from tapping into this fund and force the superintendent to draw, instead, from the district’s base fund to beef up the police force.

A greater benefit to students, according to Ratliff’s motion, would be to split up the $13.02 million into three chunks:

  • $6.51 million, for cleaning up some of the district’s most dilapidated schools.
  • $4 million, to hire 30 full-time restorative justice counselors, raising the number of districtwide positions to 35.
  • $2.51 million to cover the cost for professional development in School Wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and “other trauma-informed and social emotional learning strategies that are research based for the 35 highest need schools.”

The board, as usual, will take on a vast array of issues tomorrow, including charter school revisions, renewals and revocations, technological upgrades, and facility renovations. They’ll also hear from Bennett Kayser about his proposal to eliminate cleaning products containing harmful chemicals that could trigger asthma attacks from all district buildings.

The members will also hear from representatives of various labor groups who are entering into negotiations with the district on new collective bargaining contracts. Among the unions expected to make presentations are those representing service workers, teamsters and principals.

School board president Richard Vladovic has designated 4:30 pm as the start time for an unlimited number of people to address the board, no more than two minutes a piece, on the 2014-15 budget, an offer that could extend the meeting deep into the evening.

As one board member staffer said, “This is a meeting for granola bars and sleeping bags.”

Read Next