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Activists Demand LAUSD Support Schools in Low-Income Communities

Education activists delivered on Tuesday more than 5,000 petitions to the Los Angeles Unified School District board of education demanding $1 billion in state funding over the next seven years to help low-income students and English learners.

The petitions were delivered by representatives from Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS), a coalition of nonprofits and community groups that fight for equity in local schools, according to organizers.

“Our members are really worried the dollars won’t be determined at the local level,” said Ama Nyamekye, executive director for Educators for Excellence. “Schools have very different needs and serve very different constituencies.”

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown created the Local Control Funding Formula, which allows school districts with high concentrations of low-income students, English learners and foster youth to allocate millions of state funds.

“Now the question is how is it implemented?” said Hernan Vera, president of Public Counsel, a public interest law firm involved with CLASS.

“Do the dollars go to support the large bureaucracy in general or is there a good clear plan to make sure the dollars are best used for the purposes that our kids need them the most?”

CLASS activists demanded that the board spend the money on under-served students instead of what they call “special interest” projects.

Nyamekye said the district needs smart spending and good strategies. “We need to invest very strategically in things that we know will raise achievement in our students,” she said.

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy is expected to release his budget proposal for the coming year soon, possibly next week. LAUSD board member Monica Garcia said she anticipated that his proposal will include bolstered funding for key district programs, after years of lean budget years that forced funding cuts.

“I accept the thousands of signatures and acknowledge voices that have demanded investment, quality and justice from LAUSD for decades,” Garcia said.

“Every child in California deserves more investment and support for their academic journey. Our students with greatest needs deserve our greatest support.”

Garcia told NBC4 that the district’s effort to provide all students and staffers with iPads or laptop computers would not take away funding from essential programs.

“The iPad program is strictly an investment from our bond program, which is separate from our general fund,” she told the station.