By Becky Koppenhaver
The Los Angeles school district teachers union and a group headed by district administrators joined forces in their bid for a new Echo Park school currently under construction near Alvarado and Sunset. The two teams – a United Teachers Los Angeles group and Local District 4-Echo Park Community Partners – had always intended to join together but first needed to come to agreement on a few key issues, according to District 4 representative Shannon Corbett, who is also L.A. Unified Director of Elementary Schools and Middle Schools. Last week, the union mailed out a four-page brochure*to many Echo Park households asking residents for their support in an upcoming advisory vote to determine who gets to control the new school called Central Region Elementary Elementary School #14.
Originally, the UTLA and District 4 groups were competing for control of the school with very similar proposals, the main difference being a requirement of longer work hours for teachers working under District 4. Corbett says that now UTLA teachers will be required to work from an “elect to work” agreement that will include a commitment of additional teaching hours per week. She says this will allow teachers to be more involved in tutoring and the many enrichment programs included in the curriculum.
The second competing proposal for the school comes from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, which runs several charter schools in the MacArthur Park area.
Corbett says District 4 is optimistic about being awarded the school, “ based on the strong content of our plan and the overwhelming support by a variety of stakeholder groups that includes community based organizations, parents, and members of the Teacher’s Union.”
The advisory vote is part of the district reform program called Public School Choice. The program allows groups – including charter and private school as well as teams of teachers and administrators – to operate new and existing schools.
Residents and community member will get a chance to vote for one of the two proposals for the Echo Park school at two upcoming meetings on Thursday and Saturday.
* Update: A second wave of union-sponsored brochures began arriving in Echo Park mail boxes today.