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Zimmer tells staff to take advantage of CA leadership with LA ties

Mike Szymanski | January 27, 2016

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SteveZimmerFunnyIt’s a such unique moment with the leadership of Sacramento that LAUSD should find a way to take advantage.

That was the message from LA Unified board President Steve Zimmer to district staff at a board committee meeting yesterday: figure out how to ask for more money from the state, even more than the district’s fair share.

His targets were the two new leaders of the legislature — Anthony Rendon, the in-coming Assembly speaker, and  Kevin de León, the Senate pro Tem —  and of course, Gov. Jerry Brown.

“Given what I’ve seen in the initial budget, and that the senate president pro tem and incoming speaker of the assembly are from the LA delegation and represent LA Unified, we’re at quite a moment in terms of budget and what is possible,” Zimmer said, also noting that the governor has had long personal ties to Los Angeles.

Brown moved to Los Angeles in 1969 and worked as a lawyer in private practice and began his political career winning a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. A year later he won election as California Secretary of State.

Rendon represents areas south Los Angeles and was an educator and executive director of Plaza de la Raza Child Development Services, which provides child development and medical services to 2,300 children throughout Los Angeles County.

de León is the is the first Latino elected to lead the Senate in 130 years. He represents Los Angeles and co-chaired Prop 39, a tax-increase measure that has generated millions of extra dollars for public schools.

“It is quite a moment,” Zimmer pointed out. “This coalition of elected leaders is directly accountable to the residents, the parents, the activists, our teachers and school employees, and making the final decisions on the budget. It is a moment of opportunity. We have not had this in a moment where we can make investments through the budget, only when we had to deal with cuts.”

Zimmer asked the staff to help new superintendent Michelle King take advantage of the state support. Last week, King was introduced to the legislators in Sacramento at Gov. Brown’s State of the State address.

“We need to know where are the pressure points so we can maximize investment in terms of our kids,” Zimmer said.

When LAUSD’s chief lobbyist, Leilani Yee, was giving a report of the state legislative budget, Zimmer said, “Certainly this is not bad news, or is it?”

LA Unified’s chief financial officer, Megan Reilly, pointed out that the governor’s budget slowly helps LAUSD looming debt.

“The governor has given the schools consistent support and more funds are coming,” she said.

There’s $125.8 billion in the state general fund for education and $2.8 billion for LCFF money that puts that funding ahead of schedule, Reilly said.

The governor approved $1.2 billion in discretionary funding, and LAUSD is expecting $107.5 million because it is based on school population. The state also has approved 7,030 slots for preschool and the district is asking for 700 of them.

Board member Scott Schmerelson said, “We are 11 percent of the state, we should get 11 percent. We are the best and the biggest. We should get our fair share.”


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