LAUSD Superintendent Affirms Commitment to Develop Long Term Facilities Program
September 2, 2011 We are pleased to announce that Superintendent John Deasy has affirmed his commitment to continue to develop long-term facilities solutions for charter schools as a way to relieve Prop. 39 demands. As a result of our recent efforts and communications with LAUSD, the Superintendent is requiring staff to articulate a process for distribution of bond funds through the use of augmentation grants, in order to support continued development of long term facilities solutions.
In early July, CCSA CEO and President Jed Wallace sent a letter to Superintendent John Deasy to express the charter community's concerns regarding the sustainability of the LAUSD Long Term Facilities Program, and the protection of this funding. The charter community had previously collaborated with the district on this issue, securing $91 million in new charter bond funds, $55 million of which were specifically earmarked for long-term facilities projects. However, in spring of this year, major staffing changes in the Facilities Services Division and proposed changes in the allocation of funds were putting numerous projects in jeopardy.
On August 30th, Superintendent Deasy sent a response to CCSA's letter, reiterating his commitment to the Long Term Facilities Program, and stating that the district has now developed a Facilities Augmentation Grant program. Some of the highlights include:
- District will continue to evaluate requests for augmentation grants and assist charters in leveraging State bond funds. The District claims to be currently working with seven charter operators with more than $90 million in state Charter School Facilities Program (CSFP) funds to develop long-term facilities solutions.
- Staff is now working on a process to determine selection criteria for award of augmentation grants.
- If savings are realized from Prop. 39 cost projections, the funds will be made available for augmentation grants to facilitate long-term facilities solutions. Pilot Projects will be considered if sufficient funds are available.
- Detailed scopes of work will be established for each Proposition 39 co-location project (The district previously planned to set aside $16 million yearly for these projects with no accountability for how the money would be spent).
- The District's Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Facilities Executive will be assigned to work with the charter school community in the development of a Charter Strategic Execution Plan.
Although we remain concerned over the District's decision to continue using charter bond funds for Prop. 39 collocations, and placing on hold the development of stand-alone "pilot" projects, we are pleased that they are now specifically committing $25 million for augmentation grants, and promising to return unused Prop. 39 set asides back to the Long Term Facilities Program fund. The Superintendent also clearly indicated through his statements that charter bond expenditures are tracked carefully, made only where necessary, and returned to the long term facilities program fund if unused. This is the first time in many years where the District has substantively articulated its policies toward long term facilities solutions and the expenditure of bond funds for charters.
Clearly, the District has heard our concerns loud and clear. They now know that we in the charter community are expecting them to continue to develop a transparent, effective, Long Term Facilities Program that will have meaningful results for charter seat need. The District has additionally been put on notice that charters will be closely monitoring the expenditure of charter bond funds to ensure they are utilized in an appropriate, frugal manner.