LAUSD’s Board of Education Approves Resolution in Support of Fair Utility Rates for Schools

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 9, 2016) - At its February 9, 2016 Regular Meeting, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education approved a resolution brought by Board Member Mónica Ratliff and co-sponsored by Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez, that calls for the District to engage the Los Angeles City Council to discuss the impact of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s rate hikes, as currently proposed.

The LADWP approved five years of significant electric and water rate increases at their January 19, 2016 board meeting, and such increases are scheduled to be considered by the Los Angeles City Council’s Energy & Environment Committee on February 17, 2016, and by the City Council, itself, on February 24, 2016. Once fully implemented, the new rates would cost the District an additional $22.4 million per year, assuming stable consumption. That $22.4 million will, therefore, not be available to fund needed school resources such as classroom teachers and building and grounds workers. $22.4 million could fund approximately 211 classroom teachers or 364 buildings and grounds workers.

The resolution directs the District to collaborate with other local public educational institutions, such as the Los Angeles Community College District, the California State University, and the University of California, to jointly seek and advocate for solutions to mitigate the adverse impact on educational opportunities in the City of Los Angeles threatened by the rate hikes. The resolution also calls for the District to look into the possibility of advocating for a separate discounted rate structure for the District and all publicly funded schools, including public charter schools.

The resolution discussed the annual transfer of surplus revenues from the LADWP to the City ($265 million in 2015) and called for the District to advocate for the City of Los Angeles to perform certain services to provide some financial relief to the District, such as: (i) filling crossing guard vacancies at qualifying intersections near elementary schools; (ii) performing tree-trimming services to make students safer at, and while travelling to and from, public school; (iii) and performing recycling and garbage-disposal services for the District.

“We should not ignore the huge impact that these rate hikes will have on the District and other public education entities. We have a responsibility to be transparent and vocal about the impact this will have on the schools and classrooms. I hope that our City Council members recognize, publicly discuss, and transparently seek to mitigate the negative impact that increased rates will have on public education in Los Angeles,” said Ms. Ratliff.

“It’s extremely important that, as a government institution, we have open and transparent conversations about how the DWP’s proposed rate increase will impact the District and our students,” said Board Member Rodriguez. “We owe it to the public, our families, and our students to include them in these conversations because the proposed rate increase may have a substantial financial toll on the District.”
 
Contact: Rosemary Duff (213) 241-6096