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VALLEY PERSPECTIVE

Diverging Views on Breaking Up LAUSD

March 19, 2000

At public hearings on a proposal to form two new San Fernando Valley school districts, speakers have agreed on little except their desire for change.

The breakup proposal put forth by the group Finally Restoring Excellence in Education, or FREE, calls for a northern and a southern Valley district with Roscoe Boulevard as the primary boundary line between them.

The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization, after a series of hearings, will make a recommendation in June to the State Board of Education, which in turn will decide whether to put the breakup proposal to a public vote. The next public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Walter Reed Middle School, 4525 Irvine Ave., North Hollywood.

VALLEY PERSPECTIVE asked several community members who spoke at a Feb. 24 hearing in Van Nuys about the plan and its potential effects on education.

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TONY LOPEZ, 33, Mission Hills

Vice president of the San Fernando Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

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The problem that I have with the FREE petition is that it failed to communicate to the community at large, especially the northeast San Fernando Valley communities. I know [FREE supporters] gathered more than 20,000 signatures, but what I've heard from members of my LULAC council and also people that I've met is that they were signing that petition without understanding [that] it breaks the Valley in two. It breaks the community not only economically and socially but also demographically. The north is the lower- and middle-income community and the south the more affluent community.

The FREE petition says they're looking at the welfare of the community in terms of educating the children, no matter their color. If that's the true intent, then we should look at one school district for the Valley.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has failed our children for many, many years. The proposal that interim Supt. [Ramon C.] Cortines, his [proposal to divide LAUSD into] 11 mini-districts, the intentions are good. But we're looking at the Valley being broken into three districts, and the northeast Valley [district would have] more than 77,000 children. Again, our community was not considered. We have a greater number of kids that are in low socioeconomic communities, and we'll have a disproportionate amount of resources.

If we break the Valley into one school district, at least it gives our community the chance to start from scratch. We'll talk to the community [and] the educators about how to best educate our children.

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