LACES Untied

LACES Untied

LACES Untied

Just Ask Z
Just Ask Z
May 28, 2024
Art by Lucas Lee.
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May 23, 2024
Just Ask Z
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Board Games

A look inside the LAUSD school board

In the hierarchy of public school decision-making, the most well-known figure people point to is the superintendent, Alberto Carvalho in LAUSD’s case. But there is actually a group above the superintendent, who despite making many of the most important decisions regarding LAUSD schools, remain unknown to many high schoolers: The LAUSD School Board.

Whether dictating the time they wake up, what they eat at school, or if they can take school transportation to get home, the school board has a very real impact on LAUSD students. The impact affects LACES students in particular, as the board seat for District 1 -LACES’ district- is up for re-election in March of next year.

LAUSD is the second-largest school district in the country behind New York City, and the largest self-governing school district in the country. This means the district is run by a board, whereas in New York City the head of the school district would ultimately be the mayor. LAUSD has seven board members, including Nick Melvoin of District 4, and their corresponding districts encompass over 1,000 schools and 600,000 students.

“Our job is governance and policy, and the superintendent’s job is the management,” said Melvoin. ¨But I would say the board members are responsible for making sure that the kids of LA Unified are getting high-quality education, and teachers and employees are being well taken care of, and that we’re just … good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

While much of the credit for policy goes to the superintendent, many LAUSD policies are put in place as a result of school board advice or decisions.

“Hiring the superintendent … the teacher and classified employee raises, physical improvements to schools, which ones get renovated, which get new sports facilities,¨ said Melvoin.¨Transportation around what schools get bus routes. [With] COVID policies … when we closed schools, when we reopened, [what were our] vaccination policies, could you work for LA Unified if you weren’t vaccinated? That was a board policy.” 

Another impactful decision the board made was in regard to the expansion of preschools. Every four-year-old now gets a free spot at an LAUSD preschool, instead of solely five-year-olds as it was before. 

“Everything we do must be in alignment with all LAUSD policies, or board resolutions,” LACES principal Ms. Kimberly Lesure said. One resolution that has a large impact on many students is the later start time. “The late start, when we moved to 8:30, that had to be approved by the school board. Most things [that we do] are approved by the school board,” said Lesure.

For students, many policies affecting daily life and school experience are decided by the board. For Melvoin, being a school board member is intense but rewarding. Melvoin is currently campaigning for the House of Representatives for California.

“It’s been a huge responsibility, but one I take really seriously and one I really enjoy … we’re dealing with not just teaching kids how to read and write and do math, but making sure they’re fed, have devices, and have health care.”

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