The budget is the first for Superintendent Michelle King, the 30-year L.A. Unified veteran who was promoted in January to be the District’s top administrator. Along with the budget, the board approved the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) that details how targeted state revenue will be spent to improve outcomes for low-income students, English-learners and foster youth. These high-needs students comprise 84 percent of the District’s enrollment.
“I have participated in many budget discussions over the years, but this is the first time this has been my budget,” Superintendent King said. “I am proud that these investments support a whole-child approach, are equitable and reflect the input gathered from our stakeholders.”
Between August and June, the District held more than 50 meetings with students, parents, employees and community members on goals, targets and strategies for the upcoming academic year. The top priorities included new and expanded electives, lower student-to-teacher ratios, continued investments in school climate and restorative justice programs and “wrap-around” services like nursing.
The District used these goals in allocating additional resources to serve deserving students, including more services for foster and homeless youth, additional restorative justice counselors, and increased college and academic counseling at high schools. In addition, every middle and high school, and the 55 elementary schools with the highest need, will receive an additional teacher to help reduce class size or increase elective offerings.
Board President Steve Zimmer called for the District to continue its efforts to close the achievement gap, occurring from transitional kindergarten through high school.
“We do want to see what works and continue to make sure that the investments we make are having transformative outcomes,” Mr. Zimmer said. “This budget represents hard work and a hard fight for equity and adequacy. It’s not yet an aspirational budget driven by what it could be. This is an all-together-now budget. As we look toward next year, it has to be an all-together-now, with a new kind of urgency and vision as to what could be. Like our graduates and transitional kindergarten students, we have to keep striving for more and greater in everything that we do.”
“We are committed to making the most strategic investments with our limited dollars to ensure that we provide the best possible education to our students,” said Dr. George J. McKenna III, the board’s vice president. “This spending plan may not be ideal, but it is an incremental step in the right direction toward achieving equity.”
“We prioritize 100 percent graduation and a strong support system for our youth on their path to greatness,” said Board Member Mónica García. “While we have more work to do, we acknowledge our District leadership for budgeting with purpose and setting the blueprint for academic success for every child in Los Angeles.
“Superintendent King has affirmed L.A. Unified’s commitment to achieving excellence, equity, eliminating the opportunity gap and increasing local control in our schools,” Board Member García added.
“I know that this board must make tough decisions to ensure that we are serving our highest-need students and that this District is fiscally solvent,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “This LCAP and scorecard is focused on outcomes to ensure we are making progress toward our goals and priorities. In planning for the future, I hope that we are evaluating our programs and services to ensure that we are strategically investing in what the research and data has proven to be most effective.”
“While it is comforting to have a stable and equitable District budget going forward, our students need and deserve more adequate resources in almost every area,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson. “I hope that our state leaders will work on funding public education at a level that truly prepares our students for California’s 21st century economy.”
In response to a recent decision by the California Department of Education challenging how the District allocated revenue under the Local Control Funding Formula, $245 million is reserved until the issue is resolved.
School districts are required by law to have a balanced budget, and L.A. Unified imposed a number of cost-cutting measures to make the District more efficient and its operative more cost-effective.
"I strongly commend Superintendent King for implementing cost-reducing measures in the Central and Local District offices to help create another balanced budget for the upcoming year,” said Board Member Mónica Ratliff. “In the short time that she has been superintendent, she has already managed to reduce the Central Office budget, ensuring that resources are dedicated to teaching and learning and not unnecessary bureaucracy.”
Board members also spoke of their frustration over state funding of public education.
“We know what our community deserves and what our children need, said Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic. “We should be doing more, but we don’t have the money. This is a state responsibility because we cannot initiate new funding sources.”
Contact: Shannon Haber (213) 241-6766