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LA schools superintendent: principals should get leeway on how to spend extra funds

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In the first peek at how the Los Angeles Unified School District will spend an extra $188 million it's expected to receive next year to focus on the needs of disadvantaged children, Superintendent John Deasy said he wants to leave many decisions to school principals.

"School communities know their students best," Deasy told a group of education advocates Monday. "They should have the maximum autonomy about how to spend that within the right parameters.”

Gov. Jerry Brown’s new Local Control funding formula does give districts leeway in how to spend the funds - as long as they can show how the choices will help children who are low-income, foster kids or learning English. It will be left to districts to decide whether to use the money to, for instance, decrease class sizes, higher back counselors and librarians or lengthen the school day.

L.A. Unified school board member Steve Zimmer has said he wants to use new state money to re-hire staff and reduce class sizes in the district. He said years of staff cuts have deteriorated overall conditions at schools.

The State Board of Education is voting this week on an accountability plan school districts will have to use to detail their plans.

School districts must also ask parents what they think before any big decisions are made.

L.A. Unified is working to assemble a parent advisory committee of 47 parents to comply. In a district of 650,000 students, that's about one parent representative per 14,000 kids.

The district's five education service centers are charged with organizing most of the committee nominations.  The centers will put forward eight parents each.

The other seven will be appointed by the LA Unified school board.