Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"LAUSD Gets Weeklied"

Joseph Mailander covers Ramon Cortines' first 100 days as Superintendant of the Los Angeles School district; along with Mr. Cortines' plans for LAUSD and even he admits he's not going to have an easy time of it.

from the LA Weekly:

Cortines was the de facto superintendent even before David Brewer left. He had a stint as interim superintendent here in 2000, when he attempted to decentralize the huge LAUSD—peeling schools away from tight district control, adding a new layer of administration in the form of minidistricts, and also giving more purchasing power to individual schools.

Cortines is pursuing that path again, but critics are already saying he’s taking on many targets at once, too many of them too poorly thought-out.

Scott Folsom, vice president of Tenth District Parent Teacher Student Association, and a member of an oversight committee that watches over how LAUSD spends construction bonds, says, “He was very subscribed to the decentralization plan he wrote 10 years ago. ... My personal feeling is that in the kind of economic era we’re in, centralization makes more sense.”

Cortines wants to give principals more authority to budget for their own schools, which, Folsom warns, is likely to be very costly, particularly since LAUSD principals cannot be fired or held accountable nearly as easily as charter-school principals can — and few of the principals have any budgeting experience.

“LAUSD principals are not prepared for that job,” Folsom says. “They don’t have the wherewithal, the power, the training. ...Their idea of balancing a budget is checkbook balancing.”

Cortines faces even more skepticism from the United Teachers Los Angeles. Many teachers remember how “decentralization” made for conspicuous consumption by the minidistricts early in this decade. Now they fear the fiscal battles facing LAUSD will hurt teachers while Cortines fiddles with an old experiment.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

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