Villaraigosa, Romer hold LAUSD talks

first_img Chick and the mayor have defended her actions, saying she can bring public credibility to any review of the district. Chick has filed a Public Records Act request for all of the district’s previous audits, as well as what steps were taken to implement any recommendations. But Romer and Villaraigosa said Wednesday that they did agree on some fronts. Romer said he agreed to conduct a study of the number of students in the district who drop out as he and the mayor seek common ground on the issue. In bolstering his efforts to reform the city’s education system, Villaraigosa has cited a Harvard University study that found that more than 50 percent of LAUSD high school students drop out before graduating. LAUSD officials estimate the dropout rate is 25 percent to 33 percent. And Villaraigosa said he agreed that the city will pay for crossing guards at schools, with the money to be used as matching funds for the construction of joint-use facilities. Under that concept, schools would be located as part of a complex that also would include park space and library facilities. Romer said he also hoped to be able to better convey the district’s successes over the past five years. “If you just look at the numbers, we have had a dramatic improvement,” Romer said, citing more than 90 percent of schools that now have student Academic Performance Index scores above the 600-point average. Five years ago, fewer than 26 percent of schools reached that level, he said. “It is not size alone that determines if a district is successful,” Romer said. “We have an economy of scale that smaller districts could never achieve. And there are smaller districts that have poorer performance than we do.” Romer said he did not object to the debate over how to best improve the schools and their performance – as long as the district is able to also weigh in with its side of the issues. “That has been a problem,” Romer said. “We need to correct that.” Romer also said he believes a plan by Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Granada Hills, to introduce a measure this year that would break the 727,000-student district into more than a dozen smaller districts is premature. “If you want to talk about something like that, I think you should wait until at least 2012 when we are done with our building program,” Romer said. “To break up the district now would bring an end to all we are doing – the biggest school building program ever attempted.” Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! After months of increasingly acrimonious wrangling, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Los Angeles public schools Superintendent Roy Romer met Wednesday in an effort to improve relations and work together on district improvements. While the two said major areas of contention – such as mayoral control of Los Angeles Unified and a proposed audit of the district by City Controller Laura Chick – remain unresolved, they hope to meet more regularly to tackle a variety of issues. “If this were a business, we would be a Fortune 200 company, with 80,000 employees and an $18 billion building program going on in this city,” Romer told reporters after his 90-minute meeting with the mayor at City Hall. “I think it’s important for the heads of two large institutions like the school district and the city to meet.” The move to reach at least a partial accord comes as Villaraigosa steps up criticism of the nation’s second-largest school district, – blaming leaders for lagging test scores and a dismal dropout rate – and seeks public support for his efforts to overturn the status quo. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Villaraigosa said he appreciated the meeting with Romer, although he disagreed with some of the substance of the talks. “While he didn’t talk about governance, I made it clear I am committed to mayoral control of the school district to increase accountability,” Villaraigosa said. “I have also made it clear that I think we need an independent performance audit conducted by the controller.” Chick, a Villaraigosa ally, has asked to be invited by the LAUSD to perform her own audit of its operations at a cost of $800,000. Romer said Wednesday that he still is opposed to a Chick audit, as well as the way the proposal has been advanced. “I have audits coming out of my ears,” Romer said. “The last thing I need is another audit. And I don’t appreciate the way this has been approached as a political campaign.” last_img

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