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Valley Perspective | PERSPECTIVE ON LAUSD

Subdistrict Goals

September 03, 2000|JUDY IVIE BURTON, District B

A sweeping reorganization of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the cornerstone of a reform plan, has placed 11 veteran administrators in charge of new subdistricts that schools chief Roy Romer has said will bring administration closer to families. To better understand the effects of decentralization on the San Fernando Valley area, Valley Perspective asked the leaders of the three Valley-based districts to write about their challenges and goals, the changes parents and students can expect and what the administrators will do to improve education in their area. Here are the essays they wrote:

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Local District B is the largest of the 11 districts, serving more than 77,000 students in the north and east Valley school communities, from Sylmar to San Fernando in the north Valley to North Hollywood in the east Valley. Our diverse student population is approximately 80% Hispanic and also includes a significant representation of white and African American students. More than 78% of our students participate in the free- and reduced-meal program. Our students are enrolled in 82 schools and children's centers, about half on overcrowded year-round campuses.

As superintendent of District B, I have the opportunity to improve student achievement by working collaboratively with our school leaders, our parents and the community in developing educational programs to meet the unique needs of the diverse communities we serve.

Our simple but straightforward mission is "families and schools working together to improve literacy and math for all students." That is what will drive every decision we make.

Although we are still very much a part of Los Angeles Unified School District, our needs are unique and cannot be adequately addressed with a one-size-fits-all culture. I intend to use my position to build a productive customer service oriented relationship with our central offices to ensure that the concept of semiautonomous local districts is implemented in a manner that devotes our energy and resources to teaching and learning. That means keeping our focus on instructional priorities through coordinated professional development, eliminating duplication of effort and minimizing disruption to schools.

Our vision in District B is to provide Nordstrom-quality service and support to our schools by organizing our staff and resources around the five K-12 families of schools in the North Hollywood, Polytechnic, San Fernando, Sylmar and Verdugo high school complex feeder patterns. Each family of schools has been assigned a team that includes a director of school services, specialist teacher coach, and coordinators of instruction, special education and other services. Each team is to work with schools in improving classroom instruction. This allows us to create smallness within our district so that we know each school's progress, strengths and needs.

Among our challenges in District B are meeting the needs of English language learners, finding classroom space to relieve increasing overcrowding and providing support to prepare emergency-credentialed teachers who represent more than one-third of our classroom teachers. District B has nine principal vacancies and many new administrators with less than two years' experience. We also face the challenge of building community confidence that the reorganization plan, if implemented properly, will improve the education of the children we serve.

Our priority goals are to accelerate student achievement in reading and to initiate a focused approach to improving math instruction. Although we have much to accomplish to reach our goal of all students reading on grade level, it is evident from the Stanford 9 results that schools are headed in the right direction.

Specific goals for District B are:

* To improve reading achievement in secondary schools where we have not yet provided the structured support in place in elementary schools.

* To increase the percentage of credentialed teachers by working with local universities and sustaining successful efforts like the DELTA professional development project.

* To build the capacity of potential new leaders who will be well-prepared to serve as effective principals and assistant principals.

* To work with our community in finding classroom space to relieve overcrowding.

* To provide more immediate access to parents in getting involved in our schools and in having a direct voice in improving the education of District B schools.

* To sustain and expand reform efforts already underway that are working, including LEARN, school-based management, charter schools and other efforts that invest in ownership in the local school community.

Parents and students can expect responsive service and direct access to where decisions are made in our local district. Most importantly, the communities we serve in District B should expect to see improvement in the quality of teaching and learning and should expect to have their involvement welcomed.

Each day I learn something new about the parents, principals and teachers in District B, the challenges they face, their successes and their struggles in meeting the needs of our students. We are ready to work together to ensure the success of our schools.

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