Los Angeles Gives Extra $700M to Schools Most in Need

LA’s high- and highest-need schools will have increased access to the essential resources to level the academic playing field

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board has voted 6-1 to distribute an additional $700 million in the 2021-22 academic year to schools using the Student Equity Needs Index (SENI). The SENI is a formula used to inform the allocation of funds so that LAUSD can efficiently address the achievement gap. Passage of Board Member Monica Garcia’s “Equity is Justice 2021” Resolution means all 650,000 students across the district, especially the 161,000 English Learner students, will benefit from these dollars, and LA’s high- and highest-need schools will have increased access to the essential resources to level the academic playing field. 

In the current school year, 2020-21, the district invested only $282 million through SENI despite starting with a budget of approximately $9 billion. Approval of $700 million in additional funding through SENI means that the Board has more than doubled SENI allocations in one budget season, and schools serving communities like Watts, Boyle Heights, and South LA will be gaining hundreds of thousands — or millions — of additional dollars effective immediately. These funds will provide critical support for under-resourced schools, including psychiatric social workers, intervention coordinators, attendance counselors, planning time for teachers, and other vital interventions which school communities can use to respond to the specific needs of individual schools. It is especially gratifying to see these funds approved now so that Principals have the time they need to implement these critical services and supports as schools are reopening and we immediately strive to combat structural inequities exacerbated by COVID-19. 

“We are excited about the commitment the district has made to the highest-need schools in LAUSD, which serve essential families who have sacrificed their health and lives to keep our city and county moving and thriving. These same families live in parts of the district, like South LA, that for far too long have experienced disinvestment and been ignored. The Board has made the Student Equity Need Index (SENI) the vehicle for equity, and this $700 million investment sends a strong message,” states Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Community Coalition.

“We applaud the LA Unified School Board for supporting the expansion of much-needed resources for our highest need schools. All budgets are a reflection of values, and more than ever before, we need the district’s resource allocations to reflect transformation for our young people and our communities,” says Maria Brenes, Executive Director of Inner City Struggle. “We cannot allow for the opportunity gaps that have harmed Black and Brown students to deepen. Thank you, Board Members Garcia and Franklin, for your leadership! And thank you, Board Member Brown, for your voice!’

“We commend LA Unified’s Board for passing the Equity is Justice 2021 Resolution, which will provide immediate, much-needed, flexible funding to our highest-need schools, including 19 schools in the Partnership’s network,” says Ryan Smith, interim Chief Executive Officer for the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. “What’s more, this flexible funding allows school communities to respond to the specific needs of individual campuses, targeting the dollars where they will have the most impact and the best outcomes to continue to close opportunity and achievement gaps for our scholars.”

“The LAUSD now serves as a beacon of light and hope for students by making a $700M equity investment in schools with high needs. California’s success and prosperity depend on our public schools’ capacity to offer pathways of equal opportunity,” states Karla Pletiez Howell, Chief of Policy and Programs at Advancement Project California. “We applaud Board Members Garcia, Ortiz Franklin, Melvoin, Gonez, Schmerelson, and Brown for leading the charge and recognizing the voices and needs of students and families.”

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