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Superintendent Beutner Proposes 2019-20 Budget Focused on Increasing Student Achievement (6-11-19)


When I took on this challenge just about a year ago, I knew we would have to work together to address decades of underfunding and budget woes that have led to many years of strained relationships with those who work in schools and not enough progress in helping all students succeed. This budget is just one step in our shared work to make sure every student gets a great education.

Budgets are a statement of the values of an organization. This 2019-20 budget allocates more money to schools to provide the best possible education for students. Specifically, the 2019-20 budget:

  1. Makes an historic commitment to better serve students with the highest needs. The budget provides an additional $263 million, more than a ten-fold increase from the prior year, to schools serving the students with the highest needs.
  2. Improves education outcomes by reducing class sizes and adding more student support in schools. Class sizes will be reduced by four students in grades 4-12 over the next three years, with greater class size reductions in high need schools. There will be nursing services at every school and additional library and counseling services at every middle and high school.
  3. Increases investment to build the leadership capacity of principals, while we work to reduce the amount of time principals spend on compliance paperwork and addressing facilities issues. Great school leaders build great schools and our focus will be on helping each school leader.
  4. Makes it easier for families to engage in schools. We will continue to reduce the red tape and fees that stand in the way of families being a part of their child’s education. Students do better when their families are a part of their education. 
  5. Shrinks the central bureaucracy to shift money to schools. We will continue to reduce the bureaucracy and make sure every nickel that taxpayers provide goes to schools.

In order to achieve these objectives, we have:

  • Reduced administrative costs by $43 million on an annual basis and an aggregate of $129 million over three years. Almost 97% of the money Los Angeles Unified spends is spent at school sites.
  • Implemented a more cost effective plan to provide certain healthcare benefits to retirees that will save $50 million in the coming year, $150 million over the next three years and reduce long-term liabilities by $3.8 billion.
  • Realized savings of $41 million on prescription drug costs this past year through the work of the Employee Group Waiver Plan.
  • Worked at the state level to come to a common understanding of the whole child support, which includes counselors, deans and student advisors, as well as other school site personnel Los Angeles Unified provides in schools. This will unlock an additional $105 million of funding over the next three years.
  • Tightened costs on a day-to-day operating basis, which resulted in $62 million in savings from what was originally budgeted for the 2018-19 school year. We will continue these cost saving practices in the years ahead.
  • Implemented efficiencies in procurement, worker’s comp and cafeteria operations that have produced $14 million in savings in the past six months and will produce $100 million over the next three years.
  • Began work to optimize the use of Los Angeles Unified’s real estate portfolio to meet educational needs, create affordable housing for employees and pursue additional general fund revenue to hire more staff in schools. The first step in this effort, a comprehensive inventory of all of the real estate controlled by Los Angeles Unified, will be published later this month.

There are certain challenges that have not changed since the day I started. Los Angeles Unified will continue to face declining enrollment for the next decade according to forecasts by the Los Angeles County Office of Education. A recent report from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management states that the chance of a recession in the next two years is growing, which could lead to a decline in funds from the state for schools.

While we will continue to take further steps to reduce costs and become more efficient, there is still a substantial gap between the needs of the students in our schools and what the state and federal government provide Los Angeles Unified with to address these same needs. We will continue to work with the Governor and Legislature for additional funding for public education and we will continue to inform the communities we serve about the need for local funding for local schools.