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New coalition seeks to influence LA Unified's spending

Advocacy group wants to influence how L.A. Unified will spend $188 million in new funding
Advocacy group wants to influence how L.A. Unified will spend $188 million in new funding
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A group of advocacy organizations want to influence how the Los Angeles Unified School District spends an extra $188 million it'll be receiving each year as part of the state's  new Local Control Funding Formula.

The money is meant to meet the high costs of educating disadvantaged students, including kids from low-income families, foster children and those still learning English.

But Jason Mandell, Director of Communications at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, is not sure all the extra cash will trickle down t0 its intended population.

“How do you make that happen?” he asked. “How do you stop it from being all the decision makers behind closed doors all saying ‘well, thanks for the money, Governor Brown, this is what we want to do with it.’”

The United Way’s answer is to form a coalition with eight other groups it hand-picked, called Communities for Los Angeles Student Success.

It's a mishmash of community and education-specific advocacy groups: Alliance for a Better Community, Community Coalition, Educators 4 Excellence, Families in Schools, Inner City Struggle, Los Angeles Urban League and Teach Plus.

Some, like Educators 4 Excellence and Teach Plus, have taken stances on teacher evaluations and other polarized education issues. Others, including Families in Schools, want parents to play a larger role in school policy even after this budget is decided.

The coalition as a whole has yet to put forth agenda.

It has scheduled a series of widely publicized public forums to discuss the new spending. The first one was held Thursday.

The events are in partnership with L.A. Unified - and help the district meet a state mandate to involve parents in the planning process.

“I think that for the district to come to public settings, and make public commitments to students, parents and the larger community,"  said Aurea Montes Rodriquez with Community Coalition.  "It’s a form of accountability. That is the way that democracy works.”