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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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BARBARA LINDEMANN, 55, Chatsworth

French teacher at James Monroe High School.

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Our administrative staff are some of the finest and most professional people I have ever worked with. My biggest complaint is that downtown doesn't let us run our school. They have all these little rules set up. If I need books and downtown has books earmarked for someone who doesn't need them, they can't switch the funds over to my school.

We have more bathrooms open now, but that was because our principal went down to the school board. The reason we couldn't open them earlier is because we didn't have enough security or people to clean them. We didn't have enough bathrooms open for eight months.

The floors in my classroom have finally been cleaned. We've been able to hire more custodians. But before, when we did earthquake drills and the kids were supposed to get down under their desks, there was no way on God's green earth I was going to let any human beings get down on those floors.

Another problem is lack of current, relevant textbooks. The district is very slow at letting you know what the program is. How can you order textbooks when you don't know what the district is going to require you to have?

I became frustrated because of a lack of access to video machines. I went out and bought a TV set with a built-in VCR. Ninety-nine percent of teachers at our school go out of their way to make sure these kids get a good education. We're not getting supported. It's like there's a big wall between us and downtown.

What really distressed me at [the] hearing is when people got up and said dividing [the Valley] north-south is drawn around racial lines. I happen to live in the north Valley. So do [FREE leaders] Bert Boeckmann [and] Paula Boland. They're somehow implying that people south of the line are going to get a better education than people north of the line. It is not intended in any way, shape or form to be racially divisive.

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