Los Angeles Unified School District
District Partner 2002-2003, 2007, 2017-2018
ERS is partnering with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and an independent advisory task force to analyze how the district uses its resources to achieve student success and financial sustainability. The analysis will focus on issues like student absenteeism, funding equity, and teacher and student support. In the past, ERS has partnered with LAUSD to build leadership capacity in budgeting, to redesign middle schools, and to analyze the budget to improve resource allocation.
"Over the years, I have worked with many recognized experts in the field of education, but without question, I'd rank ERS at the top."
-Jean Brown, former Superintendent, Local District 1,
Los Angeles Unified School District
As the second largest school district in the country, LAUSD faces both great challenges and great opportunities. The school system serves about 580,000 students, 84% of whom qualify for free and reduced price lunch, and employs about 26,000 teachers. Like all large urban districts, LAUSD is constantly striving to increase student achievement, where 40% of students met or exceed state standards in English Language Arts, and 30% in math, in 2016-2017.
Also like many large urban districts, LAUSD faces an uncertain financial future. The growth of charter schools, rising benefits costs, a slowdown in state funding growth, and the near prospect of taking over pension liabilities from the state will sharply constrain LAUSD’s finances. Leaders must figure out how to reach high instructional standards, with a high-need population, on limited resources.
- Targeted Analysis of Student Absenteeism: Analyze attendance and absence patterns in LAUSD schools, assess current attendance improvement efforts, review best practices in comparable districts, and present recommendations
- Resource Mapping: Analyze resource allocation across the district, with a special emphasis on distribution of funding; teacher compensation, strategic retention, and professional learning; and overall equity of resources.
- Long Term Financial Planning: Create a five year financial plan based on the above analysis
- Resource Mapping: Create a resource map to help LAUSD identify and prioritize reallocation opportunities and to examine changes in teacher compensation and central spending over time
- Student-Based Budgeting: Advise on creating a student-based budgeting formula (also known as Weighted Student Funding)
- School-Based Resource-Use Support: Give principals tools to examine their own budgets and resource use and to support the district’s efforts to improve middle school teaching and learning
Findings and Outcomes
- Targeted Student Absenteeism Analysis: The LAUSD School Board largely agreed with the recommendations compiled by ERS and submitted to them by the LA Unified Advisory Task Force. The district will pilot several new approaches, including personalized direct mail to parents, neighborhood canvassing and phone banks, and cash incentives to schools. Successful programs will be scaled up in the future.
- School Design: ERS developed the following products and services that built the capacity of 1,700 LAUSD principals to strategically manage resources:
- Designed a training program with trainers, coaches, and materials for principals and assistant principals at the elementary and secondary school level.
- Produced three case studies that describe the budget and organization of a typical LAUSD school to engage principals in group discussion and problem solving.
- Developed software tools for use by principals-in-training to evaluate their own school budgets according to principles of effective resource organization.
- Resource Map: ERS presented the district with a comprehensive report on school budgets, course schedules, organization, and use of time in every LAUSD middle school. The findings led to new designs for middle school schedules that reduced teacher load dramatically and increased time in literacy.
- Funding and School Design: On behalf of LAUSD and the Los Angeles Teachers Union, ERS conducted an in-depth analysis of the LAUSD budget to determine investment at the central and local administration level, as well as the school and student level. Findings from the analysis were published in the comprehensive report, Strategic Review of FY06 District & School Level Resources. In response to the report, the LA Board of Education convened a first-ever LAUSD Board/Los Angeles Teachers Union Retreat to discuss the analysis and report. They reached consensus on key compensation and central office spending findings and have taken the following steps to implement the recommendations:
- Creation of an Innovation Unit to develop and implement changes recommended in the report, such as increased resource flexibility and high school funding.
- A "summit" of experts to review the efficacy of current English-Learner programs and service delivery.
- Exploration of weighted student funding system to allocate resources to schools.
- Exploration of an extension of the school day that would give sufficient time for common planning and allow for block scheduling at the middle and secondary levels.
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