LAUSD TO READJUST NEEDS AS ENROLLMENT CHANGES.
Byline: NAUSH BOGHOSSIAN
Hundreds of thousands of students are scheduled to stream back into Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. Unified schools today for the start of the fall session as the district grapples with declining enrollment and the sixth year of a massive construction program.
A projected 700,000 students will be enrolled in the LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA) this year -- official figures are expected in October -- down from last year's 708,000, officials said Tuesday.
The slipping student figures come, however, as the district has built 67 new schools and still has 77 to go in its $19.2 billion construction program -- the largest public-works program in the nation.
Faced with the dropping enrollment -- and rising construction costs -- in the coming months, the school board could be forced to reconsider re·con·sid·er
v. re·con·sid·ered, re·con·sid·er·ing, re·con·sid·ers
1. To consider again, especially with intent to alter or modify a previous decision.
2. the envisioned scope of its building program.
"The program is still on track to deliver two-semester neighborhood schools by 2012, and we have a very big year coming up in our construction program," said Guy Mehula, the LAUSD's chief facilities executive, noting that eight schools -- including three in the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. -- will open in the 2007-08 school year.
"Our biggest challenges remain the construction capacity in Los Angeles, the number of contractors and labor we have available to do this program. ... Financially, ... we're not letting the cost escalations cause us to fall short in the quantity of what we build or the quality of what we build."
The new school year also marks a milestone 39 schools that will convert from multitrack mul·ti·track
1. Having, using, or produced with multiple recording tracks: a multitrack tape recorder.
2. , year-round schedules to traditional schedules -- 10 of them in the Valley.
Of the 39 schools, nine have been year-round schools Year-Round School is the operation of educational institutions on a calendar-system that tracks students into class schedules throughout the entire calendar year. A primary motivation is that higher student throughput is accomplished via more effective scheduling of school for 25 years.
"The 39 schools going off multitrack this year is a tremendous indicator of the capacity we've built," Mehula said. "Twenty-five years is a long time for a school to be on multitrack that was supposed to be short-term."
New school board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley, said she hopes the schools that go off multitrack will see an improvement in student achievement.
"Hopefully, what we're going to see from these schools that are returning to a traditional calendar is higher test scores and more engaged students and parents," said Galatzan, whose son will begin kindergarten kindergarten [Ger.,=garden of children], system of preschool education. Friedrich Froebel designed (1837) the kindergarten to provide an educational situation less formal than that of the elementary school but one in which children's creative play instincts would be today.
Before leaving his post, former Superintendent Roy Romer Roy R. Romer (born October 31, 1928 in Garden City, Kansas, United States) was the 39th governor of Colorado and served as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District from 2001 to 2006. warned the committee charged with overseeing bond money for the construction program that costs could fuel a $2 billion to $3 billion shortfall Shortfall
The amount by which the capital required to fulfill a financial obligation exceeds available capital.
Shortfall risk is often combated with an efficient hedging strategy created by a fund, group, institution, or individual. .
A Romer or Roamer is a simple device for accurately plotting a grid reference on a map. launched the construction program in 2000 by winning passage of the first bond to address a shortage of 160,000 student seats.
Mehula said he plans to go to the school board in a month to update members and present a list of schools that are necessary to meet the goal of the program: getting all students to a two-semester school in their neighborhood by 2012.
The district still has 142 schools on year-round calendars, down from 220 five years ago, Mehula said.
LAUSD officials are also working on getting two key pieces of legislation passed this year to make sure they get state matching funds Noun 1. matching funds - funds that will be supplied in an amount matching the funds available from other sources
cash in hand, finances, funds, monetary resource, pecuniary resource - assets in the form of money needed for the construction program.
Mehula projected that about 23 percent of every new construction project will be funded through the state, and legislation waiting for the governor's signature will ensure that the district gets the full 50 percent match in state money.
Of the $19.2 billion construction program, $12.5 billion is coming from local taxpayer dollars through four bonds. The rest is from state matching funds.
"Some (of the deficit) gets reduced by the state match, and some of it will get reduced by the projects we don't need," Mehula said.
He said he will present the school board a list of about 16 schools that have been identified for construction projects that are not necessary to reach the goal of two-semester neighborhood schools for all LAUSD students.
Last September, the district kicked off the 2006-07 year by opening seven new schools, followed by the largest single-day opening of high schools in October in the district's history -- all in the east San Fernando Valley.
The district began the 2005-06 school year with what officials called the historic opening of 13 new schools. Only 24 schools had opened between 1972 and 1999.
Galatzan said she supports returning all schools to a traditional calendar and relieving overcrowding overcrowding
overcrowding of animal accommodation. Many countries now publish codes of practice which define what the appropriate volumetric allowances should be for each species of animal when they are housed indoors. Breaches of these codes is overcrowding. . But although the district is experiencing a decline in enrollment, parts of the San Fernando Valley -- especially the Porter Ranch ranch, large farm devoted chiefly to raising and breeding cattle, horses, sheep, and goats. The cattle ranch was introduced from Latin America to Texas and the plains of the W United States and Canada. area -- are still growing and adding students to the school system.
"As we're coming to the tail end of our building plans ... we need to keep those demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data. in mind because regardless what our plans were when we started, we have to make sure we're building schools where the kids are and where the kids will be," said Galatzan, whose own son will start kindergarten today.
"It would be great if we had all the money in the world to build but we don't, so we're going to have to take a hard, long look at our priorities."