Report looks at LAUSD’s last 16 years of school board resolutions
A new report from GPSN brings insight into the voting and passage of Los Angeles Unified school board resolutions over the last 16 years. The report, which covers the complete terms of all sitting board members, recommends advocates take a deeper look back at the efforts they have pushed forward to ensure the district follows through on implementation and suggests the school board create a more transparent process for that implementation. The report comes as the district embarks on a new strategic plan outlining its goals for the next four years.
“Policy passage doesn’t lead to implementation,” GPSN managing director Ana Teresa Dahan said. “A lot of the resolutions really didn’t focus on implementation. They were really focused on saying, here is a problem. Let’s go study it.”
Resolutions, meant to guide district priorities and decide angles of approach, have varied in use from year to year. Annually, the number has ranged from 31 to 118, totaling 1,151 since 2006 with 83% passed. The report recommends that the board use resolutions more sparingly to turn the focus toward accountability and implementation through stakeholder engagement and new reporting mechanisms.
Many of the board’s resolutions have been celebratory, according to the report, followed in number by those related to health, and appointments and reappointments. Across the last 16 years, board members have typically voted as a uniform block, something GPSN has found to have increased as time has passed. Just over two-thirds of the policies in that time span received unanimous support from the board members.
“The challenge board members have is, because they’re elected they have to show some wins for their constituents too. I think resolutions provide them that opportunity,” Dahan said. “It’s a balancing act.”
Under LAUSD’s approach to equity, the school board has passed resolutions focused on targeting specific subgroups to close achievement gaps and allocating funding equitably based on student need, according to the report. Resolutions have largely involved expanding access to resources, outlining goals and increasing teacher support. Recent resolutions have largely focused on the district’s Black student population, providing new support through efforts such as the Black Student Achievement plan, which used funding pulled from the Los Angeles School Police.
Funding for the board’s efforts has largely been approached based on school sites or on student populations. LAUSD experienced its most significant shift in funding strategy in 2014, following the creation of the Student Equity Needs Index, meant to inform funding by categorizing schools based on student need. That change led to a shift toward distributing funding by school site rather than by student population, according to the report. As the board passes resolutions involving funding, it has also largely focused on allocating supplemental funding rather than replacing or redirecting funding streams that already exist.
With regard to staffing, many of the board’s resolutions focused largely on recruitment, 92% of which led to substantive changes around staffing as a result of shortages the district has faced. More than half were passed to authorize emergency credentialed teachers. Those addressing retention focused largely on incentivizing teachers and administrators to stay in the district.
Though the report does not analyze the effectiveness of implementation of the resolutions, it provides a database of resolutions made across the last 16 years, which Dahan said GPSN hopes community members will use to hold the district accountable for matters that are important to them.