Credit: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EdSource
Los Angeles Unified's school board on Tuesday offered conditional renewals of charter schools classified as low-performing.

Los Angeles Unified’s new superintendent is proposing directing an additional $1.9 billion to targeted investments next school year as the district continues to push to close achievement gaps, focus on student wellness and invest in staff for the 2022-23 academic year.

District officials provided a snapshot of new investments for the proposed $18.5 billion budget Tuesday ahead of its expected adoption next week.

This is the first budget proposed by Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who joined the district in February and has taken the past few months to evaluate the district. LAUSD is simultaneously working on finalizing its four-year strategic plan, which will help shape budget priorities in the years ahead.

“We are in good standing,” he said as he addressed concerns over district funding. “We are in a very solvent position — that is the current declaration.”

The proposal is actually $1.5 million lower than the current budget but adds funding to Carvalho’s priority areas.

LAUSD is focusing this year on improving student achievement, maintaining staffing levels and transitioning away from its Covid-19 funds as it prepares for the time when that funding will no longer be available. The district is also planning to further personalize the academic support it’s providing to its students based on what the community says it wants.

Carvalho emphasized that the budget is in no way finalized and is not expected to be so until August, noting that he expects significant revisions between now and then based on state funding and further implementation of the strategic plan. Following the revised budget in August, Carvalho said the district will monitor the effectiveness of its strategies quarterly in order to promptly make needed changes.

LAUSD is distributing $24 million more to the Black Student Achievement Plan, which started to address disparities between Black students and their peers and is one of the new goals identified under the Local Control Accountability Plan. The district is also planning to direct more funding toward English language learners and special education as well as to support Native American and Indigenous students.

For the first time, the district is also strategically investing in providing more green spaces at its schools, allocating $58 million to the goal. Carvalho said $50 million would also go to security to harden the perimeter of schools and provide equipment and training, which he made clear would not go toward the district’s Police Department. Students and community members have continued to push for decreasing investment in district police, following the initial step last year to do so.

LAUSD is also increasing funding toward social emotional learning and mental health by $50 million as well as directing $1 million more to College Board testing to provide free testing to more students.

The proposed budget also includes the funding LAUSD directed in May toward extending the 2022-23 school year and closing the digital divide: $122 million would fund four additional instructional days and three professional development days, delaying the end of the school year by a week; $50 million is proposed to close the district’s digital divide by offering free broadband services to families, a plan announced last month.

To support staff, the district is adding $8 million for professional development. The district is also ramping up recruitment by investing an additional $5 million into personnel efforts as well as investing more funding into employee retirement by increasing money for the other post-employment benefits trust.

Carvalho also made it clear that more funding would be directed toward improving access and quality of transportation for students, though he did not provide an estimate as to how much additional funding the priority would receive.

The budget comes as the district continues to navigate declining enrollment. LAUSD currently enrolls more than 430,000 students, but predicts that number will drop by another 100,000 students over the next 10 years. Though district officials noted LAUSD is at low financial risk for the next two years, fewer students is a reality the district is preparing for as it plans for the future.

“We are a district that continues to lose its students,” Carvalho said, noting that the rate of decline is expected to increase.

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  1. Rick 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    So this year we're focusing on improving student achievement? Apparently the year before we didn't and, I guess, next year we'll see what the priorities are. And we're putting $24 million into addressing Black under achievement? Black students have been underachieving for as long as we have had public education, but let's address that with some extra money this year since we have some available. Anyone with a whit of sense can … Read More

    So this year we’re focusing on improving student achievement? Apparently the year before we didn’t and, I guess, next year we’ll see what the priorities are. And we’re putting $24 million into addressing Black under achievement? Black students have been underachieving for as long as we have had public education, but let’s address that with some extra money this year since we have some available.

    Anyone with a whit of sense can see that we are lost and rudderless and throwing money and programs at random shiny objects. The tortured sentence, “We are in a very solvent position — that is the current declaration,” sums up our situation nicely with a clear and unequivocal inclination regarding our well-known uncertainty.

  2. Eric Premack 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    With due respect to the author, this article seems to miss the key points. Superintendent Carvallo says "we are in good standing" and "in a very solvent position." Perhaps in the very short term. Real math reveals a very different picture, notwithstanding the district's unusually high levels of funding (over $26 thousand/student/year). Consider these facts: -The budget projects massive deficit spending of $865 million in 2022-23 and continuing deficit spending in subsequent … Read More

    With due respect to the author, this article seems to miss the key points. Superintendent Carvallo says “we are in good standing” and “in a very solvent position.” Perhaps in the very short term. Real math reveals a very different picture, notwithstanding the district’s unusually high levels of funding (over $26 thousand/student/year).

    Consider these facts:

    -The budget projects massive deficit spending of $865 million in 2022-23 and continuing deficit spending in subsequent years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in red ink each year.

    -Estimated budget reserves will plummet, from the current $3.6 billion to $1.5 billion by 2024-25. Clearly, there is a big structural imbalance in the district’s budget.

    -The district has a $10 billion+, unfunded liability for post-retirement health benefits with very limited capacity to fund it, especially on a shrinking enrollment base. It blew off its plans to pay-down this shortfall for the past several years and is only now starting to do so on a 40-year-plus timeline. Where nearly all districts have stopped the archaic practice of offering such benefits, LA Unified continues to do so.

    Clearly, the district continues to spend beyond its means notwithstanding its unusually high revenues. Is it time for the State to take control of the district, relieve the current board/superintendent of their authority, and insert a trustee or similar until district leaders can demonstrate the capacity to engage in sound budgeting, long-term planning, and can articulate a credible plan to pay down the huge long-term liabilities with math that passes the giggle test?

  3. jim 2 weeks ago2 weeks ago

    Tis is ambiguous "$122 million would fund four additional instructional days and three professional development days, delaying the end of the school year by a week" What does this mean? Does it mean that kids will be in school with teachers for four additional days and with subs for three additional days which is a week and a half? Or does it mean the kids will be in school four additional days and teachers … Read More

    Tis is ambiguous “$122 million would fund four additional instructional days and three professional development days, delaying the end of the school year by a week” What does this mean? Does it mean that kids will be in school with teachers for four additional days and with subs for three additional days which is a week and a half? Or does it mean the kids will be in school four additional days and teachers will work an additional three days after the kids get out? Which is less than a week.