LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, FEBRUARY 28, 2019 — Today, we sent the following letter to LAUSD.
Dear Board Members and Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District,
We are submitting this letter on behalf of the Equity Alliance for Los Angeles’ Kids in support of efforts by the Los Angeles Unified School District to generate additional revenue through the passage of a local parcel tax as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing the under-investment in LA’s public schools.
Led by the Community Coalition, InnerCity Struggle and the Advancement Project California, the Equity Alliance continues to support increased investments for the highest need students and schools within the second largest school district in the nation. The Equity Alliance and partner organizations have been important stakeholders in bringing attention to the inequities that have persisted in education funding at the local level by ensuring equitable allocation of Local Control Funding Formula dollars through the Student Equity Need Index (SENI). LAUSD’s commitment to transformative initiatives brought forth by the Student Equity Need Index is a critical step toward ensuring schools and communities receive much-needed supports and resources.
We know that the 40 year legacy of Proposition 13 has adversely impacted education funding, leaving California far behind in per-pupil spending for too long. We applaud the School Board’s support for The Schools and Communities First Funding Act that will be on the state ballot in November 2020. The Funding Act proposes to help schools across the state and correct a longstanding injustice that has taken much-needed funding from public schools.
The opportunity of a parcel tax is yet another step toward fully funding our schools in the midst of foreseeable financial concerns which were presented by the district. To make sure that the measure raises funds in an equitable way, the Board must adopt an approach that assesses the tax based on square footage, rather than a flat per-parcel rate. Even the best-designed parcel tax will be regressive in some aspects, meaning that lower-income Angelenos will pay a higher share to support these new revenues.
Given this context, we urge the Board to ensure equity in the tax measure given the challenging economic forces affecting housing in Los Angeles and to direct new dollars to the families who need it most, and who will be asked to contribute most. Target programs we know help highest need communities, such as early care and education and programs elevated in the recent Innovation lawsuit should be prioritized as key investment areas. We also ask the Board to consider a sunset date of 5 or 7 years to allow the LAUSD to make a case to the voters that the parcel tax funding has resulted in improved academic outcomes in high and highest need schools.
LA voters will have the opportunity to weigh on key measures that will address what we all know to be true: our schools deserve more and the promise of a quality education regardless of zip code must be fulfilled. It will also be important for students, parents and community partners to weigh in through stakeholder input, and have access to measure-related data and budgets. We urge that the board implement a mechanism of engagement or “task-force” to facilitate meaningful input and access to key information.
Lastly, while we support taking action now to ensure increased revenue sooner rather than later – the Board and the district must also work with the community to ensure that The Schools and Communities Funding Act passes in 2020.
Thank you for your consideration, Sincerely,
The Equity Alliance
Alberto Retana, Community Coalition
Maria Brenes, InnerCity Struggle
John Kim, Advancement Project California
Hilda Maldonado, Senior Executive Director Diversity, Learning and Instruction, Office of the Superintendent
Elmer Roldan, Director of Civic Engagement, Office of the Superintendent
Pedro Salcido, Office of the Superintendent
Lizette Patron, Chief of Staff, Board President Monica Garcia’s Office
Sarah Angel, Chief of Staff, Board VP Nick Melvoin’s Office
Danielle Tenner, Policy Director, Board VP Nick Melvoin’s Office
Dr. Sharon Robinson, Chief of Staff, Board Member George McKenna’s Office
Arlene Irlando, Chief of Staff, Board Member Scott Schmerelson’s Office
Aixle Aman, Chief of Staff, BD 5
Megan Vandenbos, Chief of Staff, Board Member Kelly Gonez’s Office
Becki Nadybal, Senior Policy Advisor, Board Member Kelly Gonez’s Office
Chris Torres, Chief of Staff, Board Member Richard Vladovic’s Office