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If the Los Angeles school board elections were a movie, then the nominee for best supporting actor might go to an individual who so far has received little attention: Reed Hastings.
Based on documents reviewed by The Times, the founder of Netflix has contributed close to $5 million since last September to the California Charter Schools Assn. Advocates, a major conduit of funds for school board candidates backed by charter school supporters. His most recent contribution was $1 million on Tuesday.
Another major recent contributor is a familiar name in education politics. Eli Broad put in $400,000 last Friday.
CCSA Advocates can use such donations for any political purpose, but in recent months, the L.A. school board race — the most expensive in the nation — has been its principal project.
On the other side, teachers unions and their allies also are spending big, although they are not able to match the pro-charter side dollar for dollar.
If charter backers prevail, they could win their first pro-charter majority ever in the nation's second-largest school system.
Charter supporters are backing Kelly Gonez for the soon-to-be-open seat in District 6 in the east San Fernando Valley. United Teachers Los Angeles is supporting Imelda Padilla.
In District 4, stretching from the Westside to the west Valley, charter advocates are behind Nick Melvoin, who is challenging union-backed, two-term incumbent Steve Zimmer, the school board's president.