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Brown signs bailout for Inglewood schools

California will take over the Inglewood Unified School District, which could otherwise run out of money by December. The bill is one of 22 the governor signed.

September 15, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • Students exercise in the new multipurpose room at the renovated La Tijera School in Inglewood in February.
Students exercise in the new multipurpose room at the renovated La Tijera… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a $55-million emergency bailout and state-takeover plan for the nearly bankrupt Inglewood Unified School District.

In addition to authorizing the emergency loans, the measure requires Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to assume the duties of the Inglewood school board. Torlakson will work with the county schools superintendent to appoint a state administrator for day-to-day operation of the 15,000-student district.

State Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) had introduced the package in the Legislature, saying a significant decline in enrollment, deep cuts in state funding and poor financial decisions by the district's management meant the district would otherwise run out of money as early as December. On Wednesday, the school board voted to cut salaries by 15%.

"The students in Inglewood deserve an education, and we have a constitutional obligation to provide it," Wright said. "This loan will close a painful chapter in the Inglewood Unified School District's recent history and allow staff to get back to the business of educating the next generation of community leaders."

Wright said in an interview Friday that the problems afflicting the Inglewood district's 26 schools are showing up elsewhere as well, so the Legislature, which passed the Inglewood measure Aug. 31, may get more bailout requests.

"There are 10 to 15 other school districts that could very well be in the same position as Inglewood in the next fiscal year," Wright said.

His SB 533 was one of 22 bills Brown signed Friday, including one to protect those in a federally funded food stamp program called CalFresh in case their electronic benefit cards are stolen.

CalFresh recipients already can be reimbursed if their benefit cards, which function like debit cards, are stolen. The new law, AB 2035 by Assemblyman Steve Bradford (D-Gardena), provides the same protection if they are victims of electronic scams such as illegal card readers.

The governor also approved a bill to make it easier for the state commission that draws legislative and congressional districts based on population counts to include prison inmates in the neighborhoods they come from instead of the location of their incarceration.

Prison officials will be required to provide the commission with information on the census block in which each inmate previously lived. That way, neighborhoods with large numbers of convicts should not be shortchanged in the redistricting process. The new law is AB 1986 by Assemblyman Mike Davis (D-Los Angeles).

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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