Students in Santa Monica-Malibu School District will be able to keep their inter-district permits as announced by Los Angeles Superintendant Ramon Cortines yesterday. Anxious families filled the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education meeting that will approve almost all permits at least temporarily, so children can attend other school districts.
Cortines said the new policy limiting out-going permits is withdrawn returning almost four-fifths of the 12,000 students attending other higher-achieving schools. He said a news system for the 2011-12 school year will better define eligibility for permits. He will also seek data from parents on why students are attending other school districts.
Cortines and Board President Monica Garcia blamed budget cuts imposed by state Legislature for the potential permit restrictions.
In February, LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines decided to restrict permits that allow students to attend schools in other districts than the one in which they live. SMMUSD receives funding for 1,245 students with inter-district permits from the state’s coveted Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. That amounts to $7 million annually. The policy was revised in response to LAUSD’s devastating financial crisis and $640 million budget gap.
“I have asked staff to implement an inter-district transfer permit policy that limits the types of permits issued to students and families requesting attendance in other school districts,” said Cortines, in a press release. “However, every request for a transfer will be individually reviewed and evaluated in its own merit.”
The state funding from Average Daily Attendance (ADA) dramatically influences the district budget. SMMUSD receives 70 percent of its overall budget from the state. The Board wants to raise revenue by increasing attendance rates. According to a LAUSD BOE resolution, due to the “successful building program, smaller schools option and other new programs,” LAUSD has reduced the need for families to go outside the district.
The policy changes would have forced about 10,000 of the 12,250 students that currently have out-of-district transfer permits from LAUSD back to their home district. A new proposal would have modified the decision to allow additional permits to be issued in districts such as SMMUSD. Board Members Tamar Galatzan and Steve Zimmer supported the proposal.
Zimmer withdrew the proposed resolution after Cortines made the announcement.
“I hope parents recognize that change is coming,” Zimmer said in the LA Times. “I encourage parents and families to use this time to really visit your neighborhood school and to see how you too can be a partner in building strong and successful neighborhood schools in every community.”
Zimmer’s resolution would have allowed students entering 10th, 11th and 12th grades to keep their transfer permit in order to stay at their current schools. The original plan proposed by Superintendant Cortines would only have exempted senior-year students to attend the out-of-district schools. Both proposals allowed 5th and 8th grade students to stay for one more year. Parent Employment Permits still allows for students if their parent/guardian is either employed or owns a business within the boundaries of another school district.
Superintendant Tim Cuneo spoke of collaborating with other district superintendents to fight the LAUSD restrictions in a recent announcement at John Adams Middle School. The districts would like to grandfather in current LAUSD students with out-going permits. Students would be able to maintain continuity in their education and not be uncertain about the fall semester, according to Cuneo.
In an interview with the Mirror last month, SMMUSD’s Director of Pupil Services, Marolyn Freedman encouraged LAUSD parents to apply for out-going permits “as soon as possible,” so if they are denied they have time to appeal the decision. A revised permit application process started April 1, which allows for online applications only and can be found at www.lausd.net. Freedman said any families that are applying can seek help from her office.
Mirror Staff Writerkatherine@smmirror.com