Sunday, August 10, 2008

Building (un)safely

4LAKids: Sunday, August 10, 2008
In This Issue:
SCHOOL DISTRICT SETTLES LAUSD DISPUTE FOR $50 MILLION: Agreement With Meruelo Maddux Comes 4 Years After LAUSD Tried to Buy Taylor Yard Site for $27MM
GREEN DOT'S EMPTY PROMISE: Despite its claims, the organization’s plans to run Locke High School won’t empower students or offer more local control.
HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
EVENTS: Coming up next week...
What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: an investment we can't afford to cut! - The Education Coalition Website
4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
ON SATURDAY MORNING A NUMBER OF COMMUNITY MEMBERS, teachers. students, administrators and parents – and one elected official – marched from Foshay Learning Center two-and-a-half miles to Dorsey High School – to protest the design of the Expo Line – the MTA's newest light rail line. [MTA Accused of Environmental Racism Over Plans For New Rail Line]

True to MTA's previous modus operandi with the Blue Line in South Central and the Gold Line in Northeast LA — where trains run though working class communities of color like Watts or Highland Park the construction design is "on the cheap"; where the trains run through more affluent neighborhoods like Long Beach or South Pasadena no expense is spared. In the case of the Expo Line as with the Blue Line and Gold Line – the trains in the Crenshaw District will run on the surface – noisy, with horns blaring and vehicular and pedestrian traffic imperiled at street level crossings with ringing bells and flashing lights.

The trains will run within fifty feet of Foshay and directly next to Dorsey – honk-honk, ding-ding, clickety-clack – endangering children going to-and-from school …and disturbing them at school. Foshay is a K-12 school, so kindergarteners' lives, safety and education are at risk.

The Expo Line will run underground next to USC – kids who pay $38,000 annual tuition will be safe – and is elevated through Culver City. But the Crenshaw District gets the short end of the stick – and will bear the heightened accident rate just like where the train runs "at grade" though Watts: the Blue Line is most dangerous passenger rail corridor in the world with the most accidents/injuries/fatalities per passenger mile.

MTA's excuse? "We always do it this way!" In other words: "We don't learn from our mistakes".

Of all the elected officials in the community from congressman to city councilpeople, county supervisor or mayor — only School Boardmember LaMotte has spoken up and marched Saturday for the safety of kids. To the MTA Board (and that includes most o' th' the electeds already listed): When you do stuff the same way you always do you inevitably produce the same result. Cue the funeral music; order up the size small caskets. Children will die between the steel wheels and steel tracks — in a screech of emergency brakes and the shriek of twisted metal.

ON THURSDAY the Board of Education delivered the new Seven Billion Dollar Bond to the County Registrar. The bond language DOES NOT assure the public, the voters, the taxpayers or the Bond Oversight Committee that the Field Act earthquake safety law will apply to charter schools built with bond funds. As a matter of fact it is rumored that the Board of Education will vote soon on a resolution – favored by the charter community and the mayor's office – that would allow such use of funds. Watch carefully.

IN SECRET CLOSED SESSION ALMOST TWO MONTHS AGO the Board of Education settled on the purchase price of the property for the Taylor Yard High School Project [School District Settles LAUSD Dispute For $50 Million: Agreement With Meruelo Maddux Comes Four Years After LAUSD Tried to Buy Taylor Yard Site for $27 Million] – a real estate transaction of historical dubious legality and questioned moral turpitude. Sooner or later the secret settlement will be shared with the public and the bond oversight committee …one would think. Not everyone subscribes to the Downtown News – hardly an impartial observer seeing as how in an editorial in the same issue they think the developer who some would say is the villain of the piece is a good example: "If Meruelo Maddux can make it happen, so can others."

The history of LAUSD and Taylor Yard reads like the screenplay of Chinatown – missing only the sex and questions of paternity – and so much remains unknown! There have been allegations of insider trading, illegal toxic dumping, extortion, political favor bought-and-sold; lies, deceit and innuendo – of a character perhaps without character who may or may not default on business deals with partners – and who might conspire to steal the taxpayers' and school children's money …financing the sorry scam (if there was a scam) by borrowing from the teacher's pension fund.

This settlement may have been reached because district counsel couldn't or wasn't able - or the board felt no confidence in their ability - to successfully litigate this matter. The Office of the General Counsel's budget has been slashed $3.1 million over the past two years - some might say this was political payback for counsels' successful action against the mayor in the AB1381 case.

The lone dissenting boardmember, Tamar Galatzan, is the only attorney on the Board of Ed — her day job is as a deputy city attorney.

The shenanigans at Taylor Yard to date have cost the District $23 million plus environmental clean-up costs plus cost of delay, interest and inflation. It has cost the children of Northeast LA four years in overcrowded year-round schools. As the Office of the General Counsel said in their response to the budget cuts: "The impact will be greater pressure on a litigation staff that is already operating at maximum potential….These cuts will result in a high risk to the core mission of the District."

Maybe, just maybe, one doesn't need all the facts or the complete varnished truth to warrant a little outrage. Or an indictment.

¡Onward/Hasta adelante! – smf


by Betty Pleasant, Contributing Editor Los Angeles Wave

7.AUG.08 - A Peaceful march is planned for Saturday, as activists and sole Black L.A. Unified School District board member say agency is disregarding safety concerns of South L.A. residents.

In a fight against what they call “environmental racism,” residents are gearing up to spend much of Saturday protesting the MTA’s plans to provide what they consider unsafe street-level railroad crossings of the proposed Expo Light Rail Line in South L.A., but safe underground crossings of the line in less ethnically diverse neighborhoods west of La Cienega Boulevard.

School board members, parents, teachers, students, union leaders and community groups and members will stage a series of events to voice their concerns about the proposed 8.5-mile Expo Line scheduled to run on rails along Exposition Boulevard from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and slicing across nearly all intersections in South L.A.

Transit activist Damien Goodmon and a coalition of neighborhood groups have been locked in battle with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the MTA’s failure to provide underground pedestrian crossings of the rails, which will carry 225-ton trains at 55 miles per hour through South L.A. intersections 240 times a day.

“In addition to the adverse traffic impacts, noise pollution and other environmental concerns, the street-level crossing design poses a significant safety hazard,” Goodmon said. “At Vermont, Normandie, Western and Crenshaw, which abut large urban schools, parks and places of worship, crossing gates aren’t even proposed.”

Goodmon pointed out that 21 of the 27 proposed street-level crossings don’t even have gates.

Alarmed by the danger children would face going to and from the many schools that abut the Expo Line, the LAUSD school board unanimously passed the “Keeping Kids Safe” resolution last November. The resolution, co-authored by board members Marguerite LaMotte and Julie Korenstein, called upon the MTA to provide safe crossings in South L.A., such as the underground crossing it plans for the USC area and the elevated trains set for the Culver City end of the line.

“So how is that arrangement fair?” LaMotte asked. “It isn’t. It’s racist and we contend that nothing less than an equitable and safe underground or elevated route is acceptable in our community, as well.”

Residents will have three opportunities to voice their concerns Saturday. Community meetings on the issue will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Foshay Learning Center and from 11 a.m. to noon on the steps of Dorsey High School. Between the two assemblies, from 10 to 11 a.m., Lamotte, union, civic and political activists will lead parents, students, teachers and others on a peaceful walk along Exposition Boulevard, on the sidewalk parallel to the tracks, to protest street-level crossings.

Saturday’s activities will lead up to the Public Utilities Commission hearing on the Expo Line problem set for Aug. 11 in Los Angeles. LaMotte said the hearing was originally scheduled to be held in San Francisco, but it was moved to Los Angeles because of pressure applied to the state panel by state Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas and Assemblyman Mike Davis.

“We intend to send as strong message to the MTA and to the Public Utilities Commission,” LaMotte said.

More Info: CITIZENS' CAMPAIGN TO FIX THE EXPO RAIL LINE -including "what can you do?"

STORY w/PHOTO MAP & VIDEO: "— in a screech of emergency brakes and the shriek of twisted metal."

SCHOOL DISTRICT SETTLES LAUSD DISPUTE FOR $50 MILLION: Agreement With Meruelo Maddux Comes 4 Years After LAUSD Tried to Buy Taylor Yard Site for $27MM
by Ryan Vaillancourt - LA Downtown News

Monday, August 11, 2008 - - The Los Angeles Unified School District has agreed to pay $50 million to settle an eminent domain dispute with Meruelo Maddux Properties over a 23-acre Cypress Park site, Los Angeles Downtown News has learned.

The agreement involving the property known as Taylor Yard comes about four years after the district sought to buy the land for $27 million, only to be eclipsed by a higher offer from Meruelo Maddux.

The previously unreported agreement was approved in a closed session meeting of the board of education by a 6 to 1 vote on June 17. That came more than two years after the district initiated eminent domain proceedings to acquire the property. A judge ruled in November 2007 that the district could take the land by eminent domain, but attorneys have since been debating what constitutes fair market value.

The district had long sought to buy the site and build a 2,200-seat facility to relieve overcrowding at nearby schools. The school board authorized the district to pay up to $29.4 million for the property at 2050 San Fernando Road, and in 2004 LAUSD negotiators offered $27 million, said Shannon Haber, a spokeswoman for the district's Facilities Services Decision. In March 2005, Meruelo Maddux bought the site for $31.8 million.

The $50 million settlement does not sit well with some, including Tamar Galatzan, the only member of the board of education to vote against the agreement.

"This is a lot of money for a property that the district could have purchased years ago and the run-up in price is based on the developer speculating that if the district didn't buy it, he could put a huge development on it and make double his investment," she said.

District officials in 2005 accused Meruelo Maddux (which was then a private company; it went public in January 2007) of swooping in at the last minute and snatching the property when the district was nearing its own deal.

Richard Meruelo, the company's chief executive officer - and a prominent Downtown landowner with close ties to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa - has long countered that the district wavered for too long and he stepped in when the seller got anxious.

"LAUSD staff walked away from the property only to become interested again after a frustrated seller put it back on the market and re-approached the entities that had provided purchase offers nearly a year prior," the company said in a statement to Downtown News last week.

Competing Visions

After acquiring the site, Meruelo Maddux proposed a joint-use project that would have placed a school with housing and retail components on the land and surrounding company-owned parcels. The development was pitched as an opportunity to enliven and give public access to a major plot adjacent to the Los Angeles River.

The company and a team of consultants envisioned the school on an approximately eight-acre parcel on the south side of the property owned by Meruelo Maddux - where a FedEx distribution center still operates - abutting the 40-acre Rio de Los Angeles State Park. The plan imagined the school and city sharing the park's athletic facilities.

The school board insisted that planning such a project would have delayed construction for too long at a time when Franklin, Marshall and Eagle Rock high schools were all in urgent need of relief from overcrowding.

Board Vice President Yolie Flores Aguilar, whose district includes the Taylor Yard site, said the LAUSD was also hesitant to embrace the mixed-use plan because there was a lack of trust in the developer (Aguilar was elected to the board last year).

Instead, the board initiated eminent domain proceedings in April 2006 to acquire the 23-acre parcel.

A Reluctant Vote

The district is now in the preliminary construction stage for Central Region High School No. 13 on the site, but only after paying about 85% more than it was initially looking to spend.

The settlement pushes the district about 5% over budget on the approximately $161 million school, said Haber. That price is what sparked Galatzan's opposition.

"I voted against what I thought was a sweetheart deal for the developer," Galatzan said. "And I remember several of my colleagues saying they were going to hold their nose and vote for it. I couldn't do that."

Aguilar said that the board members who voted for the settlement did so reluctantly.

"I can tell you, none of us were happy," she said.

Michelle Meroughni, associate general counsel for the district, said the ultimate losers in the dispute are Los Angeles taxpayers.

"I think it's unfortunate that Mr. Meruelo dragged the district through this process for as long as he did for the reasons that he did and these are taxpayer dollars that had to pay for this," Meroughni said. "Of course it's unfortunate, because it was a game to him."

Meruelo Maddux argues that the board's decision to settle is ample evidence that the company is in the right.

"On its own, the LAUSD decided to accept a settlement agreement rather than continue discussions or litigating the matter, a clear indication that it believed both history and their arguments were not on solid ground," the company statement said.

Aguilar said the board considered pushing litigation further and possibly taking the case to trial - a strategy that Galatzan favored - but most members feared that could have proved even more costly.

"This is where lawyers make their money, so we weighed that, we really did, and at the end of the day we could keep fighting it and fighting and use those $50 million and still be back at square one," Aguilar said. "For me, the most important thing was to build the school."

In preparation for construction, crews are in the process of leveling the soil and installing trailers on the site, Haber said. The project is slated for completion in 2011.

By Susan Abram, Staff Writer | LA Daily News

August 8, 2008 - NORTH HOLLYWOOD -- The backpack Evangeline Arafiles slings across her shoulder each morning holds the tools of her trade: a lilac-color stethoscope, thermometer, oximeter, penlight and stopwatch.

There isn't a Band-Aid in sight.

As a school nurse at Lowman Special Education Center, Arafiles oversees about 150 students, and there often is another registered nurse with her on site.

And despite having to insert catheters, inject insulin, treat seizures and monitor asthma, because she only has to look after 150 kids, she's one of the lucky ones.

"If you were to compare a school nurse from 40 years ago, she was someone who usually waited for a student who needed a Band-Aid," said Nancy Spradling, executive director of the California School Nurses Association.

Once known as "Band-Aid Queens," Arafiles and other school nurses have increasingly become a safety net for thousands of children.

But as their roles have changed, the nurse-to-student ratios haven't, a concern among industry groups who say complacency, budget cuts, a personnel shortage within the profession and an overall misperception of what school nurses do all collide to place children at risk.

Federal guidelines require one nurse for every 750 students. But California ranks 44th in the nation, with a ratio of 1:2,300. Of the nearly 1,000 school districts statewide, half have no school nurses at all, Spradling said.

Within the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the nation, there are 600 registered nurses for nearly 700,000 students - or a ratio of 1:1,167, school officials said.

But in some parts of the city, that ratio can swell to 1:4,000.

The shortage comes at a time when children's health issues are grabbing more headlines:

The leading cause of absenteeism among LAUSD students with chronic diseases is asthma, which afflicts some 63,000 students.

Of children born in 2000, about one-third of the boys and 39 percent of the girls will develop type 2 diabetes, according to the California Center for Public Health Advocacy analysts' estimate.

Less than 21 percent of LAUSD students met all the criteria considered to comprise a healthy lifestyle, according to California's statewide fitness exam.

A school nurse's job already was challenging because of a federal mandate in 1975 that required schools to accommodate disabled students.

"We welcome those kids. We want them to come to school and they have that right," Spradling said. "But today, school nurses are managing kids who need pharmaceuticals, children with cardiac problems, cancer, kidney treatments."

Burden of care

The lack of nurses has placed a burden on teachers, office workers and other staffers, but many don't want to be in a position to give first aid, said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

"The ratios are too high," he said. "Teachers have been told in the past that they would have to do certain things. At one point, the district wanted teachers to give shots. Our nurses were up in arms."

The California chapter of the American Nurses Association filed a lawsuit last week against the state's Department of Education, which is calling on unlicensed volunteer school employees to administer insulin to students with diabetes.

"Not only is the California Department of Education breaking state law with this directive by violating the established scope of nursing practice, but by negating the need for licensed nurses to administer insulin, they are placing the children at risk," Rebecca Patton, president of the ANA, said in a prepared statement.

Duffy said even though the nurses could train teachers, the district training would likely fall short of what teachers need to know in a medical emergency.

"We have a certain degree of student population that are at risk and they have a right to have a medical professional to be there for their needs," Duffy said.

Last year, the LAUSD was ordered to pay $7.6 million to the family of an epileptic boy who suffered a seizure at a North Hollywood elementary school, according to published reports.

The boy's family said the response to his seizure in 2005 was inadequate because several minutes passed before CPR was administered by a playground supervisor. There was no nurse on campus that day. The district argued that adults responded as best they could.

Grants are sought

Federal legislation was introduced again in June by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, once a school nurse herself. They are asking the secretary of health and human services to make grants available to eligible states to help reduce the nurse-to-student ratio.

"We're all very concerned about access to health care in the federal government," Capps said. "When kids come to school and they've never had a checkup, they come with a lot of health problems and it's a real challenge."

Still, in its most recent budget, the LAUSD cut funding for nurses to early childhood education classes or preschool.

"That, to me, is a challenge because how do we meet those needs of those in early education?" said Connie Moore, the district's director of nursing services.

"Through early detection, we can see if a child needs a pair of glasses or has an ear infection. If we just had a nurse in every school, we would be available to follow up with these children."

The district is now filling a dozen vacancies and has been able to hire 100 nurses in the past two years, especially for schools near downtown.

But there is competition for registered nurses from hospitals, and other health settings also are facing shortages.

Meanwhile, Arafiles considers herself lucky. She remains on campus all day. There is a second school nurse on staff. And she oversees fewer students than most of her peers.

Still, the job can be challenging.

"The work is rewarding," she said, "but we are stretched to the limit."

Story with photos and graph showing school nurse-to-student ratio.

GREEN DOT'S EMPTY PROMISE: Despite its claims, the organization’s plans to run Locke High School won’t empower students or offer more local control.
by Ralph E. Shaffer | OP-ED/Blowback in LA Times

Thursday, August 7, 2008 - In a matter of weeks, the Los Angeles Unified School District embarks on an unpredictable but carefully manipulated course as the charter school movement's golden boy, Steve Barr, and his handpicked, self-appointed Green Dot clique try to operate Locke High School during the regular school year. That idyllic summer school environment Steve Lopez described in his July 23 column won't be there come September.

Despite the wishful thinking of Lopez and The Times editorial board, turning a large and tumultuous school over to educational upstarts who shill for powerful forces hostile to public education is not the solution to the academic disaster that was Locke. Times editorials are awash with glowing confidence about Locke under Green Dot and Barr. They are almost euphoric about Ramon Cortines, senior deputy superintendent, who, according to the editorial board, "sees charters ... as a template for improving schools districtwide." The columnist goes on to say, "As long as leaders like Barr and Cortines engage in clear, honest talk instead of excuses and obfuscation, there's hope ... ."

But improvement won't materialize when the project is as full of holes as the Locke charter petition. Consider the "clear, honest talk" from Green Dot's leader as found in the charter that the LAUSD board approved last September.

Lopez parrots the charter myth: "Teachers will have more say on curriculum and teaching methods, and the Green Dot model is thin on administration." That decentralization fantasy is repeated throughout Green Dot's charter, along with the buzz word "empowerment." Teachers, students, parents -- Green Dot "empowers" them all.

But real control at Locke is held by Green Dot's board of directors -- a self-perpetuating, non-elected board. Teachers and parents will be "consulted," but there is very little teacher or parent empowerment. Although Locke may have an advisory board and teachers/parents may serve on it, Green Dot's board is the ultimate governing body for Locke, not the faculty, not the parents.

No Locke teacher or Locke parent served on the Green Dot board at the time the charter was approved, yet the whole point of charters when they were created in this state in 1992 was that teachers and parents, working together, could create a charter. Instead, outsiders have muscled their way in, drawn by a pot of gold in the form of billions of taxpayer dollars set aside for K-12 education and a golden opportunity to advance their own social and economic agenda.

Lopez says Green Dot is "thin on administration." He apparently hasn't read the charter petition. Green Dot abounds in bureaucrats. There's the "Green Dot Home Office," the "Green Dot Management Team," "Green Dot Corporate," the "Charter School Management Corporation" and the Green Dot board of directors. The "Green Dot Home Office" is responsible for the majority of policy decisions at each school and for the school budget. Purchases not originally budgeted can't be made without "Green Dot Corporate" approval. "Corporate" also does all purchasing, perhaps from some charter supply company.

Payroll? There won't be any payroll snafu at Locke because that will be handled by the "Charter School Management Corporation." Green Dot may be a "nonprofit" but the profiteers have found a way to make a buck. I'll bet you're wondering if there is a connection between Green Dot's board of directors and the management corporation? Some enterprising Times reporter ought to track that one down.

Curriculum? In a charter petition that ran more than 150 pages, Locke's gifted kids got one paragraph! Special ed students? In an exceedingly long section, Green Dot discusses problems that might arise for special ed students at a charter school. The suggestion is that special ed kids should probably go elsewhere. Could that be why some charter school Academic Performance Index scores seem higher than traditional schools?

For those of you who criticized our public schools for teaching recent immigrants in their native languages, note this. Locke will use "sheltered techniques" -- a euphemism for instruction in native languages -- for basic subjects. There are also separate Spanish-language courses for "native speakers."

But the major fallacy in the Green Dot curriculum program is the requirement that every Locke student be on a college prep track for the University of California or California State University. Tucked away in a footnote is the escape clause: that such a curriculum "may not be realistic" for all students. You bet it isn't. Vocational education, which is what many of these kids would like, was barely mentioned in the petition.

Cultural courses? Many courses in the arts will not be immediately offered. Anyone reading the document immediately notes the lack of music at Locke. In the past, the school was noted for its music program.

Although anti-public-education ranters were quick to attack brainwashing by liberal teachers in traditional schools and colleges, they remained silent when Barr announced his own form of brainwashing. In Locke's social studies and history courses, "students will demonstrate an understanding of .... and a belief in the values of ... capitalism." Now we know why the Gates, Broad, Annenberg and Walton families have poured so much money into the charter school movement. Since when do we require our students to demonstrate on a test that they not only understand but believe in capitalism? That ought to go over big among the economically depressed living in the Locke attendance area.

What about the kids? How will Barr and Green Dot "empower" them? The application cited two examples. They get to choose the school mascot (perhaps a clown as symbolic of this whole experiment) and get to decide what clubs and teams Locke will have. What will happen when a group of young Latinos try to form the Hugo Chavez Socialist Club? Or when other kids want to invite the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. to speak?

And finally we come to discipline. Gifted kids got one paragraph. Disciplinary problems get several pages. That's a lot of space devoted to discipline in a charter organization that prides itself on not having such problems.

Lopez saw a school with 700 orderly kids who voluntarily chose to attend a summer session. What will he see in September when upward of 2,300 more involuntarily converge on the same campus? Barr talks about a group of small dispersed schools in his charter petition, but if Lopez is right, all those dispersed schools and kids will be located on the main Locke campus.

Perhaps Barr has a way of pruning the enrollment down to a manageable number. Lopez says the average class size will fall from 40 to 28 students. How can that be when the school will have precisely the same number of teachers in September as last year? One way is to have fewer students on the campus.

Kids won't be expelled or suspended for failure because Barr offers "creative credit" for those who fail. Just how "creative credit" meets the UC requirements isn't explained. But for those who are "subversive" to administration or faculty, it's detention! For defiance, disrespect or abuse of school authority, suspension.

Appeals are made to the Green Dot board of directors. What happened to "local control"? And those expelled can't go to another Green Dot campus. That apparently means they go back to LAUSD.

That foreshadows how Barr intends to solve the discipline problem. There won't be 3,000 students at Locke. Many kids will opt out, choosing to avoid those uniforms and the repressive tactics of the administration that Lopez trumpeted. Others will not be allowed entry into Locke, for one reason or another. If their parents won't volunteer for 30 hours a school year, Locke won't have to accept the kids. The LAUSD's traditional schools will. And for those kids who do show up on campus, there will be an Iraq-type "surge" of security officers to maintain the peace.

Lopez and The Times editorial board have an obligation to bird-dog Green Dot during the coming year and to ask the right questions instead of playing cheerleader. Members of the LAUSD board have an obligation to go beyond the glowing reports that come from Barr and Green Dot and to have a contingency plan when they finally realize that Green Dot and Barr have failed.

The rest of us have an obligation to make sure both The Times and the school board do their jobs.

• Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona.

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest of the Stories from Other Sources
Ross is a delegate from California 42nd Assembly District.

smf notes: Those are school construction and modernization bonds - used for capital improvement.

smf notes: LAUSD uses TRANs for short term operational bridge funding

Aug 5, 2008 - Port of Los Angeles High School has been hectic in recent weeks as the charter school prepares for September, when it will welcome a record number of freshmen and its first senior class.
Brand-new textbooks are stacked on tables and boxes of fetal pig specimens await biology-class dissection.
New teachers, needed to instruct the incoming class of about 270 ninth-graders, are arriving on campus. Summer-school students dodge workers adding a fresh coat of paint to hallways.
On the second floor of the downtown San Pedro office building the school occupies, a construction crew hurries to erect walls for new classrooms within a huge, empty space.

Which way LA with Warren Olney - Air Date MON AUG 4, 2008 Live: 7:00-7:30P
Early last week, the LA Unified School District’s elected board of trustees was planning a 3.2 billion dollar bond measure for the November ballot. But Mayor Villaraigosa had conducted a poll showing that voters would be willing to go for more. On Thursday, the board almost doubled its request from 3.2 billion to 7 billion, with 2 billion of that not earmarked for any specific projects.

• Monica Garcia: LAUSD Board Member
• Connie Rice: Chair of the School Construction Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee
• A.J. Duffy: President of the United Teachers Los Angeles
• Caprice Young: President of the California Charter School Association

Physicians for Responsible Medicine and its affiliate the Cancer Project ran broadcast ads last week in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and other cities to make its point.
Among the districts that the group says get an F for serving too much processed meat is Los Angeles Unified. Of the LAUSD menus it studied, the group said 60% of elementary school breakfasts and 80% of middle and high school breakfasts contained processed meats.

Tallahassee, Fla.- Conservatives and libertarians nationwide tout the "65 percent solution," an enticing, simple — and some say deceptive — school budgeting concept, as a way to increase classroom spending without raising taxes.
The idea is to require schools to spend 65 percent of their budgets on classroom expenses as opposed to administrative costs. It's been pushed for three years but has sputtered nationally, with only Georgia and Texas adopting it.

Charter Schools News Connection sponsored by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: Aug 3, 2008 — After two hours of debate last week, much of which focused on funding for public charter schools, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board voted unanimously to place a $7 billion bond measure on the November ballot.
The measure includes at least $450 million to find space for and build public charter schools. Some public charter school supporters, however, are unhappy with the bond measure, which allows the district to retain control over charter sites built with the bond money.
Caprice Young of the California Charter Schools Association said she plans to raise money to fight the measure. She said she would rather see a bond issue that funds public charter schools, but still provides them the flexibility to spend the money, build the schools and then own the property once they are built.

FUZZY MATH: The ill-defined expansion of a bond proposal leaves the LAUSD with some explaining to do.
August 4, 2008 – Leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District have much to explain about how a $3.2-billion bond proposal, considered perfectly adequate two weeks ago, more than doubled in size, pumped up with blurry references to future, unspecified projects. And they won't have to explain that just to voters, but possibly to the state's lawyers.

GO TO: The news that didn't fit from August 10th

EVENTS: Coming up next week...
• Wednesday Aug 13, 2008
Ceremony starts at 10:00 a.m.
Central Region Elementary School #13
3200 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

• Wednesday Aug 13, 2008
ESTEBAN TORRES HIGH SCHOOL (AKA EAST LA HS #2): Construction Update Meeting
6:00 p.m.
Hammel Elementary School
438 N. Brannick Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90063

• Wednesday Aug 13, 2008
VALLEY REGION ELEMENTARY SCHOOL #12: Pre-Construction Community Meeting
6:30 p.m.
Langdon Elementary School - Auditorium
8817 Langdon Ave
North Hills, CA 91343

• Thursday Aug 14, 2008
Ceremony starts at 2 p.m.
Dayton Heights Elementary School
607 N. Westmoreland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

• Thursday Aug 14, 2008
CEQA Draft Environmental Impact Report and Presentation of Design Development Drawings
6:00 p.m.
Harmony Elementary School - Auditorium
899 E. 42nd Place
Los Angeles, CA 90011

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-893-6800


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6383 • 213-241-6387 • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6385

...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Schwarzenegger: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• Register.
• Vote.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent and parent leader in LAUSD. He is immediate past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represents PTA as Vice-chair on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee. He is a Community Concerns Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on various school district advisory and policy committees and is a PTA officer and/or governance council member at three LAUSD schools.
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