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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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ED KAZ, 44, West Hills

Teaches U.S. history, U.S. government and advanced placement U.S. government at Reseda High School.

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There's no extra money in this plan that actually goes into the classroom. Breaking up the district will create more bureaucracy. Each new district will need its own superintendent, its new payroll plan, its new purchasing plan. At a time when LAUSD is developing a plan to streamline out-of-classroom positions, the FREE breakup plan would create even more out-of-classroom bureaucracy.

Because of the way the district boundary was drawn--and I understand that they did it for integration purposes--they are going to severely disrupt attendance boundaries. Poly High School [Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley] is right on the boundary. Poly would lose a significant number of students. Those students would be sent to North Hollywood High or Grant High School. Hundreds of students attending Monroe High School live south of the proposed boundary. That would impact Van Nuys High School. Melvin Avenue Elementary School in Reseda is one block north of the proposed boundary. A small percentage [of students] at Justice Street Elementary School live north of Roscoe Boulevard.

There's no plan [for] the students who are currently being bused in. If we're getting students in Reseda from Belmont, where are they going to go? The magnet school funding is at best an inexact science. This could affect magnet school funding.

If you break up the school district, Los Angeles is going to lose lobbying ability at the state and federal level. L.A. got millions of dollars from FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] to rebuild buildings or replace destroyed equipment [after the 1994 Northridge earthquake].

[Breakup] raises a lot of questions, but does nothing to improve student achievement. The research says smaller schools produce better students. The size of the district is irrelevant.

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