08/11/2020

The Looming Apocalypse at LAUSD and Beyond

In two recent posts, I detailed the United Teachers of Los Angeles contract demands on the school district and reported that a strike was likely. And of late, the situation has gone from bad to dire.

Perhaps the biggest issue revolves around the union’s demand for a 6 percent pay hike – retroactive to last year – and the Los Angeles Unified School District’s counter with a 2 percent increase, a one-time 2 percent bonus and a $500 classroom supply stipend. The sticking point is a $1.7 billion reserve that LAUSD says it needs to hold onto just to break even over the next three years. At this point the district is already overspending and needs the cash to pay future bills, which include salary increases to other school employees negotiated by the district earlier this year. The union, however, ignores this reality, insisting that the district is unnecessarily sitting on the money. It claims that LAUSD’s financial officials and the school board are engaging in apocalyptic activity.

But union dismissive talk aside, the district is in deep trouble. At the August 27th LAUSD board meeting, Candi Clark, the Los Angeles County Office of Education’s chief financial officer, showed up…unannounced. This is like when parents come home a day early from a vacation and find the kids have been partying the whole time they were away. Clark told the board in so many words that they were on probation and need to be very careful or the county will take the reins of LAUSD away from them.

And then it got even worse for LAUSD. At the next board meeting two weeks later, not only was Clark back, but she was joined by Nick Schweizer, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction for the California Department of Education. His presence signaled a possible state takeover of the second largest school district in the country.

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