LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With just one week before the 2014-15 school year gets underway, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy presented his vision Tuesday to ensure every student stays in school and graduates college-prepared and career-ready.
Deasy presented his annual address themed, “My Brothers’ and Sisters’ Keeper” before the LAUSD school board and nearly 1,500 principals, assistant principals and administrators from the 909,000-student school district.
As part of his presentation, Deasy pointed to the school board’s approval of a $6.6 billion budget in 2012 following seven years of budget cuts that will go directly towards helping some of the district’s neediest students.
“Let’s not be confused about our mission: we lift youths out of poverty every single day, and we must do it for every single solitary youth,” he said.
Perhaps the most pressing issue looming of the start of the school year is the ongoing contract talks with United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), whose president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, has signaled that teachers are expected to be in the classroom to start the school year.
Deasy told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO he remains confident a new deal with UTLA will soon be finalized.
“We are looking forward to providing more than 26 percent total compensation to every one of our teachers,” said Deasy. “When we are able to successfully negotiate that, we are waiting to give our amazing teachers a raise…we look forward to having that happen as soon as possible.”
Deasy also named reducing the number of LAUSD students who dropped out last year – 6,950 students in all – to zero as another high priority for the district.
“We do not want a single solitary dropout,” he said. It is a very manageable number…we’ve brought it down very, very far, we’ll get it to zero.”
Part of that strategy includes ensuring students do not leave third grade without being able to read at their appropriate age level and helping students making a successful transition into middle school, according to Deasy.
Under each seat in the auditorium at Garfield High School in East L.A., Deasy taped an envelope containing the name of one troubled youth and challenged each administrator to personally reach out to that person.
UTLA representatives had no immediate comment on Deasy’s speech.
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