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Romer Offers Plan to Cut Subdistricts From 11 to 8

June 08, 2004|Jean Merl | Times Staff Writer

Facing a showdown with the teachers' union at today's Board of Education meeting, Los Angeles Unified School District Supt. Roy Romer is offering a compromise plan that will reduce the number of administrative subdistricts from 11 to eight.

Romer presented his reasoning for eight districts in a memo Friday evening to the district's seven board members, five of whom were elected with help from United Teachers-Los Angeles.

The union has been pushing to abolish the subdistricts.

"I do not believe we can function well with less than eight," Romer wrote. Fewer geographic subdistricts would mean too much territory for each to supervise and might jeopardize the district's academic gains, he said.

Yet his memo included configurations for six, seven and 11 subdistricts. Some board members had asked for plans involving four, five and six subdistricts as possible alternatives to eliminating all of them.

UTLA President John Perez said Monday that he had not seen Romer's memo and could not comment on it. He said, however, that a previous board motion to have from four to six districts was "a very good movement in the proper direction," because it would shift more money to schools and encourage parent involvement.

Under Romer's alternative, each of eight subdistricts, officially known as local districts, would serve about 95,000 students, up from about 59,000 to 80,000 in each of the current 11 districts. Each would have a local superintendent, three elementary directors, two middle-school directors and two senior-high directors to oversee subject matter specialists, among others.

Romer also proposed adding specialists in science and social studies, beefing up staff to oversee safety and improve student attendance, and adding a parent ombudsman to each district.

Nonetheless, in his plan for eight subdistricts, Romer said there would be 165 fewer positions, down from the current 1,030.

Under Romer's plan, the tab for the eight-district system would save about $24 million from the current $114-million annual expenditure.

UTLA has been pushing for dissolution of the subdistricts, saying that they drain school resources and demoralize teachers with their close oversight. Debate over the local districts has escalated as the board struggles to finish closing a $500-million gap in its $5.7-billion operating budget before the next fiscal year begins July 1.

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