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State Board Votes to Fund Plan to Divide L.A. District

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The state Board of Education on Friday unanimously approved spending $250,000 to devise a plan to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The expenditure, which must also be approved by the Legislature, is specifically earmarked for creation of plans to reorganize “very large and very small” school districts.

However, the measure is intended to pay for a plan to break up the 708-square-mile, 610,000-student Los Angeles school district, which critics say is too large to operate efficiently. The finished plan would require approval by voters.

Assemblywoman Marian La Follette (R-Northridge)--the author of the measure--has for years been an outspoken critic of the Los Angeles school district.

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As a concession to colleagues, La Follette--who in past years has sought unsuccessfully to break up the district through the Legislature--requested this week that the state board drop any mention of Los Angeles from the measure. But the Los Angeles school district--the nation’s second largest--is the only district defined by the state as very large, La Follette said.

The change was made in response to members of two legislative subcommittees who this week expressed reservations about appropriating money for a single school district.

“This is a step in the right direction,” La Follette said of the state board decision.

Earlier this week, a task force created by La Follette recommended that the Los Angeles district be divided into at least eight and as many as 49 school districts. La Follette said she believes that dividing the Los Angeles district into smaller districts would improve poor academic performance and solve other ills, such as campus crime.

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La Follette said the $250,000 approved by the state board is needed to pay for consultants who will draw up new district boundaries and seek answers to thorny issues such as how to divide up the students, property and debts of the Los Angeles school district.

Once such a plan is created, the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization and the state Board of Education can call for a districtwide vote on the issue.

Times staff writer William Trombley also contributed to this story.


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