LOS ANGELES – At the prodding of School Board members led by Bennett Kayser, Superintendent John Deasy said today that he would propose finding funds in the 2014-15 final budget to finance the Family Literacy program for one year.
“To ensure that all children are on the path to college and career readiness, we must lay the foundation early, investing additional resources in early education, to prepare them for kindergarten,” Kayser said, “and building on their progress in elementary, middle and high school.”
He sponsored a resolution to direct an additional investment of $10 million, generated by the new Local Control Funding Formula, for the education of the District’s youngest learners in 2014-15. The new funding formula prescribes how supplemental state funding should be prioritized to help California’s neediest students, including children in low-income families, English Language Learners and those growing up in foster care.
After Kayser requested a postponement, the board discussed early education.
A majority of the board voted to direct the superintendent to find the money. In response, Superintendent Deasy said the District tentatively identified $500,000 in the existing 2014-15 budget. That funding, he said, would supply more than three-fourths of the existing preschool instruction.
“I want to thank Dr. Deasy for looking at the budget and finding the money for early education and family literacy,” Board President Dr. Richard Vladovic said.
Board Vice President Steve Zimmer emphasized the partnership between L.A. Unified and First 5, a children’s advocacy group, is generally successful.
Regarding the proposed restoration of the family literacy instruction, he said, "This is one of the most effective programs I have ever seen. Engaging parents and young children simultaneously has proven effective in both lifting and stabilizing families. Today, we have committed to building a bridge for this important program: it is a bridge we must all cross together."
Board Member Mónica Ratliff warned that the Family Literacy program would be on the chopping block again next year, unless outside funding can be found. For now, she was encouraged by the decision to expand the program further across the San Fernando Valley.
"I am excited that the superintendent recognizes the need to expand the Family Literacy program to Pacoima," she said.
Board Member Mónica García added, “I’m glad to support a solution that retains services for families to support literacy and parental engagement. We need all students to read and write to get to graduation.”
The Liaison to Board District 1, Dr. Sylvia Rousseau, pointed out that early instructional needs of Standard English Learners must not be forgotten. She is a non-voting member of the board, responsible for providing input on behalf of the residents of Board District 1, primarily in South and Southwest Los Angeles. That seat has been vacant since the death of Board Member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte in December.
The program’s funding will be provided in the District’s final budget for 2014-15. After significant community input, including two public hearings today, the board is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, June 24. The meeting is expected to start at 4 p.m.
That vote, however, will not end attention to the issue of preschool instruction. Board Member Kayser’s resolution, “Reaffirming Our Commitment to Early Education through the Local Control Funding Formula and an Improved Economic Climate in the Los Angeles Unified School District,” will be rescheduled for the board’s first meeting in August, either on the 18th or 25th.
Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766