Charter schools could control the L.A. school board


Charter school supporters have their best chance yet to tip the scales and win a controlling majority on the Los Angeles Board of Education.

Three of the seven seats are up for grabs, and charter backers have strong candidates, seemingly unlimited financial resources.

The charter-backed candidates are Kelly Gonez in District 6, incumbent Monica Garcia in District 2, and Allison Holdorff Polhill and Nick Melvoin — both running against school board President Steve Zimmer — in District 4. If they prevail, they could form a majority alliance along with board member Ref Rodriguez, a charter school founder who is not up for reelection.

That would be a major power shift for a governing body that leans anti-charter but also is required to follow state laws friendly to charter schools’ rapid growth.

Their votes could move the nation’s second largest school system from steady, strong charter growth to swift expansion at a time when L.A. Unified is struggling with years of enrollment decline. At the very least, a pro-charter majority on the board could make more space available for charters on district-owned campuses, a longtime goal of charter operators.

Winners of the school board seats also will have extra-long terms, 5 ½ years rather than four, because the city is changing the timing of municipal elections.

Charters are publicly funded, free public schools that in California are managed by nonprofit organizations and are exempt from some rules that govern traditional schools.

Most charters are nonunion, and their growth has presented a challenge both to powerful employee unions and the school district, which loses funding tied to enrollment when students leave its schools for charters.

Read the whole story in the LA Times


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