The Los Angeles Board of Education on Tuesday approved a proposal to spend $113 million to implement new learning standards, an issue that became surprisingly controversial and contributed to the resignation of the district's No. 2 administrator.
The plan for the money launched a protracted discussion that spanned three meetings and three weeks. The purpose of the funds is to prepare the district for the Common Core standards, adopted by California and 44 other states.
Approval got bogged down when school board members were either dissatisfied or wanted more information about how senior staff planned to spend the money.
After last week's meeting, Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino confirmed his resignation, saying that the newly configured school board mistrusted senior staff, improperly micromanaged and lacked cohesive and consistent direction. He cited the delay of the $113-million appropriation as a prime example of how the district is veering off course.
Aquino said his resignation would be effective Dec. 31, but he was not present Tuesday when the proposal returned as the main topic of a specially called meeting.
Board member Steve Zimmer brought forward an amendment favored by the teachers union mainly asking for up to three full-day training sessions for instructors. In contrast, the proposal from Aquino and L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy opted for training after school and on weekends.
Deasy said his plan would cost less and provide more hours of training for teachers.
The amount of pay was one matter of contention. The district plan would pay teachers during this training at only a third to a half of their hourly rate, said Warren Fletcher, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. Teachers deserve their full pay rate, he said in comments before the board.
After more than an hour of discussion, the school board narrowly voted down Zimmer's amendment. It then approved, in essence, the budget that Aquino had brought forward on Aug. 27.
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But the matter is not entirely settled. In an interview, Fletcher said that key items of the budget are subject to union negotiations, including the creation of 122 "teacher advisors" who would be drawn from the ranks of instructors. The timing and structure of training sessions also must be hashed out with the union, Fletcher said.
"The law says you have to bargain this," Fletcher said. "We don’t expect we’ll get everything we want."
Fletcher also laid blame for the delay in approval with district staff, including Aquino. He said the district had failed to provide information about the spending plan for weeks.