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LAUSD hopes reform vote will up performance

February 24, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
LAUSD's reform vote may not please everyone, but many agree with the overall goal of improving school performance.No matter who takes control, it's all about the students' success. This is the message coming from schools like San Fernando Middle School, where the bulk of control is now under the hands of a community collaborative.

The school's assistant principal Kelly Welch said that her school will immediately begin restructuring to include Local District 2 parents and teachers to help improve performance. In 2009, San Fernando Middle School was designated as a failing school.

"I think parents were concerned about the label. No one likes to be labeled as low performance, but we have a lot of parents who are willing to work with us to improve the school and a lot of partners here that are willing to work with us in the community to help the school improve," said Welch.

Tuesday night's district vote impacted 36 schools. Twenty-four are brand new campuses and the rest are low performing. Last week, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued recommendations as to who should control and hopefully improve the schools in question. Charters, pilot programs and teacher-parent collaboratives were all considered.

At Tuesday night's meeting, UTLA members cheered as the district voted primarily with the superintendent, giving 29 of 36 campuses teacher-parent collaboratives.

"Autonomy that we've never had before for us, it's the culmination of seven, eight months of work," said teacher Patricia Jauregui.

The teacher union is happy with the decision, but charter schools are not.

The CEO of the Inner City Education Foundation walked out as the votes came down Tuesday night. That charter group hoped to take over Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy, but the board voted against it. In fact, only a handful of schools will be under the control of charter organizations including Aspire, Camino Nuevo and Magnolia.

Esteban Torres was also recommended by the superintendent to be given a charter, but the board voted against that as well.

"This is the world's saddest city for children. I wish we had leadership in this city that actually cared about children," said Mike Piscal, CEO of Inner City Education Foundation.

One parent said that she prefers the options that come with charter schools despite criticism from union members that they can be too exclusive.

"It means a better education. I grew up there and went to schools there, and I think it's going to be a great opportunity not only for my child but for all the other kids that live in the community," said parent Alma Santana about a Southgate elementary school that will now be run by a charter organization.

The school board mentioned that the decisions they came to were not easy ones to come by, but they are hoping to turn some of these campuses around. The shift in power at the impacted schools will take place in the fall.