This last Tuesday, I attended the LAUSD board meeting to hear the School Performance Framework (SPF) presentation that was given to the board and the superintendent. I arrived at 1:00 PM, and there were people still waiting outside to get in because the board room was full. This was because the board was acknowledging the Fall Sports Championship teams from different schools throughout LAUSD. Many students were in attendance, receiving praise for their hard work and success. The mood was celebratory and the students were enjoying their moment.
Shortly after all the acknowledgements were made, Dr. Gipson began to give her presentation on the School Performance Framework thus far. After the Superintendent’s reports were complete, they moved onto the item number six on the agenda, which was the Board of Education’s fiscal report. The report on the district’s current financial situation is depressing to say the least. The Chief Financial Officer, Scott Price, was giving the report, and he indicated that by the 2021-2022 school year, the district will have depleted its 1% reserves, which the district is basically surviving off of. As a result, the board is planning to cut 283 jobs in 175 categories, saving a total of $35.5 million. Around 3:45 PM, the report was almost complete, I decided to head home to try and avoid rush hour traffic. When I left, I really thought nothing else was going to happen at the meeting, little did I know that UTLA was planning to stage a huge protest right after the financial report was complete. Needless to say, I wish I had stayed to see first hand what was about to take place.
In a video that I saw on Reclaim Our Schools L.A.’s Facebook page, it showed students giving public comment, demanding that the board adhere to the union’s demands. The demands they specifically mentioned were more full-time nurses, librarians, and counselors, in addition to smaller class sizes. Of course, these sound like reasonable demands that every school should have, but when the district has already been warned that if it doesn’t get its financial house in order the state will take over, these are demands that the board simply cannot deliver. More students began to speak, while others held up banners with a list of UTLA’s demands. The crowd at the front of the room, comprised of union members, parents, and students began to chant, “Austin Beutner you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!” This went on for at least 20 minutes with several different chants being shouted. The protest was so loud and disruptive that the district had to shut the meeting down.
On Saturday, December 15th, UTLA is planning a march at Grand Park in Downtown LA. The union is calling it “March for Public Education.” I wonder if that means charter school students, and parents are welcome, since our schools are public schools too. My prediction is there is going to be a big turnout. Over 2,000 people have already RSVP’d as going on the Facebook event page. I also want to mention that when I arrived at the meeting there was a digital advertisement truck, with information in English and Spanish about the upcoming march, parked right in front of the LAUSD Beaudry building. As I stood there wondering how much this advertisement must of cost the union, another one passed by.
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