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Urban Schools Expect the Unexpected: More Money

September 27, 1987|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer

South Bay school districts with large numbers of poor and minority students are deciding how to spend their share of $83 million in unanticipated state aid aimed at meeting the special needs of urban schools.

The money, known as Urban Impact Aid, was cut from the state education budget in July by Gov. George Deukmejian. The state Legislature restored the allocation earlier this month in a bill the governor is expected to sign shortly. The bill would also provide schools in Los Angeles County with $5.3 million in so-called "Meade Aid," which also is designed to help defray higher costs in schools that have many poor and minority students.

Seven school districts in the South Bay, including the Inglewood and Los Angeles unified school districts, will receive Urban Impact Aid. District officials said that plans are now being made for use of the money.

"As soon as we know the governor has signed that thing, we're ready to spring into action," said Vashti Roberts, assistant superintendent for educational services for the Inglewood Unified School District.

Budget Cut

"There's a long laundry list of things that had to be cut," Roberts said, referring to trims that were made in the district's budget before the aid was restored.

Inglewood now expects to receive almost $750,000 in additional state funds, slightly more than it received last year.

The other South Bay districts receiving aid will all get less than last year, because the funding is being extended to several additional districts in the state. The Meade Aid allocations are the same as last year.

Inglewood will receive $33,832 in Meade Aid; Lawndale, $34,224; Lennox, $17,156, and Los Angeles, $3,731,176.

According to a spokesman for the State Department of Education, Urban Impact Aid is designed to help school districts defray some of the higher costs associated with urban education.

"Urban, low-income, high-minority districts inevitably have greater costs for education," the state official said. Real estate is one example, he said.

"The cost of adding just one classroom in an urban district can be more than the cost of acquiring the land for an entire high school in Lassen County," he said. Urban real estate can cost $1 million an acre, while undeveloped land in rural districts may cost only $10,000 an acre, he estimated.

Inglewood has not yet decided how to use its Urban Impact Aid, Roberts said. Plans for the money will probably be on the agenda of the school board meeting scheduled for Oct. 5, she said. Although she did not want to speculate on specific uses for the funds, she said that one of the district's highest priorities is reversing reductions in the non-teaching staff that were made when it appeared that Urban Impact Aid would not be allocated.

Robert Booker, chief financial officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, said that his district may use its allocation to pay salaries or to strengthen unspecified programs.

Los Angeles Unified will receive the single largest amount of Urban Impact Aid from the state--more than $31 million. Like most other school districts in the state, Los Angeles will get slightly less Urban Impact Aid that it did last year.

SCHOOLS RECEIVING URBAN IMPACT AID

Final 1987-88 Change Allocation From 1986-87 Centinela Valley Union High $99,416 -10.00% Hawthorne $82,485 -10.00% Inglewood Unified $742,145 0.47% Lawndale $85,081 -10.00% Lennox $114,302 -10.00% Los Angeles Unified $31,157,388 -8.12% Wiseburn $5,175 -10.00%

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