Last August, the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board passed a first-of-its-kind resolution that would allow outside organizations to bid on running a dozen currently underperforming schools and the 50 new schools scheduled to open over the next three years. Amid controversy and protest surrounding the motion, it passed with a 6-1 vote. Given the State budget crisis and the increasingly dwindling budget for public education, the idea behind the resolution was to leverage the tremendous resources that Los Angeles has to offer in keeping students on track and helping to raise the bar for underperforming schools.
Charter organizations, parent and teacher coalitions, business people and nonprofit groups quickly mobilized to submit proposals. Each school site received between one and five separate proposals and the competition between them is intense. As part of the process, each group was allowed ten minutes to present their plan on campus to parents and community members. Many of those presentations were to standing room only crowds who came out in the pouring rain to hear how their local school can be helped.
The first of two community advisory votes took place on February 2, 2010 and the second will be held on February 6, 2010. While anyone is allowed to cast a vote, the results are not binding. The data will provide Superintendent Ramon Cortines with valuable feedback from the community.
For their part, the District has convened panels made up of various impartial stakeholders such as educators, administrators, parents, community activists and researchers to review the proposals and provide recommendations. The panels studied each proposal in depth, compared them and engaged in discussions in order to ensure that each proposal was given equal weight. Ultimately, the final decision rests with the Superintendent to present to the School Board for their vote.
The School Board vote will take place in March. Superintendent Cortines will present a recommendation based on feedback from the review panels and the advisory vote. To understand more about the Public School Choice resolution, check the Los Angeles Unified School District website which is updated regularly.