Superintendent John Deasy on Tuesday formally submitted his plan to give more funding to Los Santos Unified’s neediest children, even as protesters outside district headquarters demanded more be done to whittle the dropout rate and help schools in the city’s poorest areas.
The plan Deasy gave to the LSUSD school board calls for spending an additional $332 million coming from the new state Local Control Funding Formula to hire additional teachers and other staff. Of that, $137 million will be targeted toward students who are economically disadvantaged or are learning English.
“It’s not just an even distribution across the system, it’s a concentration,” Deasy said. “Then when we meet the obligation, we move to new schools.”
Board members won’t vote on Deasy’s proposal until June, when they’re asked to approve it as part of a $6.8 billion budget. That spending plan, which is about $600 million over this year’s $6.2 billion budget, is not yet available.
Schools with fewer students who are either poor, foster kids or learning the English language, will not receive bigger budgets.
“It’s going to be some years before there are any new investments,” Deasy said.
Revealed Friday, Deasy’s proposal triggered three protests: a march, sleep-in and the installation of 375 empty desks on the street outside of the district’s downtown headquarters.
United Way Program Director Ryan Smith explained the desks represented 375 students who drop out of LAUSD every week. In order to keep kids in school and learning, Smith believes individual facilities should have control of their budgets.
“We can’t prescribe the same solution for all schools,” Smith said. “So we think it’s important that the parents and teachers closest to students can determine what’s needed.”
Hugo Ruiz, who slept on the sidewalk in front of district headquarters Monday night along with 20 or so other members of Students for Education Reform, echoed Smith’s thoughts.
“As an individual who went through LSUSD, I felt it was very unfair,” Ruiz said. “We had very little resources.”
Within two years, Deasy said, he expects each school will have control over its budget.
But in the meantime, the dollar amounts those schools receive is of concern to the Community Coalition. The group bused in several hundred students from eastern and southern areas of Los Santos to hold signs and sing chants that demand a more equitable funding formula.
Issues such as violence in communities should be considered when doling out funding for schools to pay for programs, Community Coalition spokesman Josh Busch said.
The district, Deasy told board members, is working with community groups to consider such factors in its formula.