EDITORIAL VALLEY LOSES OUT LAWSUIT FORCES LAUSD TO BREAK ANOTHER PROMISE ON SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION.
So it is, once again, with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Last year, the district convinced Valley homeowners to approve a third property-tax increase, Measure R, by promising 12,508 new seats for Valley schools.
It turns out that that promise - like the promise that bond money would never be used for the Belmont Learning Center, or the promise that no bond money would be wasted - has been broken. Now, the district says, the Valley will only get 6,975 new seats, a 44 percent cut, unless a fourth planned bond issue passes.
Is it any wonder that talk about a breakup of the LAUSD is heating up again?
The district has ample reasons for breaking the latest promise, but whether that eases the sense of betrayal felt by Valley parents and taxpayers remains to be seen.
Under the terms of a lawsuit the state has settled with the American Civil Liberties Union, the district must concentrate its building efforts on poor, heavily minority inner-city neighborhoods (as opposed to poor, heavily minority neighborhoods in the East Valley).
But for Valley parents and taxpayers, who always seem to end up on the short side of such developments, the district's limited culpability probably doesn't take away much of the sting. Clearly the state and the LAUSD have decided that it's more important to appease the ACLU than to make good on commitments to the voters.
If there's a reason why so many Valley residents favor breaking up the district, this is it: The constant experience of paying more and more, while getting less and less for our educational investment.
Now LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer says the district won't be able to provide the Valley with the new seats unless it can get ``another bite at the apple'' - that is, a fourth tax-hiking bond measure, possibly on the June 2006 ballot. Romer has said all along that he needs the extra money - giving him something like $14 billion in total, which makes this the second-costliest public-works project in American history - and he promises now that if he gets it, he will really deliver everything the Valley has coming to it.
No question Romer is a master salesman as well as a master builder of schools. But he's got a tough sell to restore the district's credibility to a public that has been burned time and again. Of course, if he coupled the bond issue with a breakup of the district, he just might have a deal.