Los Angeles Unified School District: Broke—and Building the Most Expensive Schools in U.S. History

Wall St. Journal:  “At $578 million—or about $140,000 per student—the 24-acre Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex . . . is the most expensive school ever constructed in U.S. history. . . . this city’s Staples sports and entertainment center cost $375 million. . . . the school district is currently running a $640 million deficit and has had to lay off 3,000 teachers in the last two years. It also has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country and some of the worst test scores.”

Los Angeles Unified School District Lunacy:

  • Visual and Performing Arts High School – $232 million
  • Edward Roybal Learning Center – $377 million
  • graduation rate is approximately 40%

Total cost for just these three Los Angeles Unified School District schools is $1,187,000,000 tax payer dollars spent by a school district that has a $640 billion budget deficit – excluding the cost of the three palaces.

LA charter schools are not happy and with good reason. A charter school organization called Green Dot paid just under $85 million to build seven schools for 4,3000 low-income students.  Green Dot’s graduation rate is double that of the LAUSD.

School District Gives Up Trying to Fire 79 Year Old 4th Grade Teacher After 5 Years

From the government workers are hired for life department.  The LA Weekly story called “LAUSD’s Dance of the Lemons” explains how difficult to impossible it is for the Los Angeles Unified School District to fire a teacher.  The LAUSD attempted to fire 74 year old 4th grade teacher Shirley Loftis, but gave up after five years.  The the state Commission on Professional Competence found that the district had grounds to fire her, but did not allow her to be fired.  During this five year period the district paid Ms. Loftis $300,000 to perform an admin job plus $190,000 for her legal fees.

Why do we have governmental agencies, including schools, that do not hire and fire based on competence or the lack thereof?  Why isn’t educating the children more important than the job of one teacher?  Is the purpose of a school to educate the children or to provide employment for life for teachers?  The article says

“It is so difficult to dismiss or discipline veteran teachers. . . . Recent articles in the Los Angeles Times have described teachers who draw full pay for years while they sit at home fighting allegations of sexual or physical misconduct.  But the far larger problem in L.A. is one of “performance cases” — the teachers who cannot teach, yet cannot be fired. Their ranks are believed to be sizable — perhaps 1,000 teachers, responsible for 30,000 children. . . .

But the Weekly has found, in a five-month investigation, that principals and school district leaders have all but given up dismissing such teachers. In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district’s 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.

Go to Top