L.A. Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines recommended a team of district administrators over a charter school operator to manage a new $68.7 million campus now nearing completion in Echo Park. In addition to the Echo Park school, Cortines also made public his picks to run portions of a new Glassell Park high school and a new campus in East Los Angeles. The Los Angeles school board, however, has the final say on who will run the campuses.
In the case of the Echo Park campus, Cortines’ recommendation is an important victory for Local District 4 / Echo Park Community Partners, which is headed by school district administrators. The team is competing against Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a charter school operator, that has also proposed to takeover Central Region Elementary School #14.
The team has won the support of many residents, including a group of activists called the Echo Park Moms and Dad Group for Education. Local District 4 also won the crucial backing of the school district teacher’s union, which has battled charter schools and other groups seeking to takeover new and poorly performing campuses. United Teachers Los Angeles paid for a series of glossy mailers support of the Local District 4 team during a community advisory vote in January. Local District 4 won that advisory vote by a wide margin.
However, Cortines’ recommendation did express reservations about the administrators’ proposal to operate the new Echo Park school. Cortines describes Local District 4’s proposal as “visionary,” with personalized education plans for all students and “multi-age groupings” of students in kindergarten through grade 8. However, the the plan “lacks depth in many areas” and key decisions about curriculum and other matters “are unknown.” It also lacked details as how the school would handle non-English speaking students.
Cortines proposed meeting with the leaders of Local District 4 to review their plans and monitor the school’s progress if the group wins final approval to operate the Echo Park campus.
Glassell Park campus
In other recommendations, Cortines endorsed charter school operator Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools to operate a technology, math and science school within Central Region High School #13 in Glassell Park high school. However, four other applicants seeking to run separate schools or academies on the campus were asked to resubmit proposals for further review.
East Los Angeles school
No applicants were recommended to run the East L.A. Star High School Academy, which will be located in a former hospital. The proposal made by the Local District 5 team “puts forth an instructional plan that includes many of the right ‘buzz’ words, but lacks depth and specificity,” according the Cortines report. “The applicant team asserts that the school will focus on medicine, health and technology; however, these themes are absent from the proposal.” The applicant was instructed to submit another proposal for the campus.
The Los Angeles school board is scheduled to vote on Cortines’ recommendations on March 15. The board members can decide to endorse Cortines’ decisions or select other candidates seeking to run the schools
Click here to view and download a PDF copy of Cortines’ recommendations.