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Roberti Adds a Wrinkle to L.A. District Breakup Plan

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seeking to revive his stalled legislation, state Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti on Tuesday offered what he described as a compromise to opponents of his plan to break up the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The Van Nuys Democrat announced that he is still pushing a proposal to establish a commission to break up the nation’s second-largest school district and put the issue on the ballot.

But Roberti said he is willing to add another wrinkle, calling for a separate measure on the same ballot to provide for a property tax increase that would generate an unspecified amount of money “for educational reform” in Los Angeles.

Critics of the breakup immediately assailed Roberti’s new proposal, saying the tax would probably need to be approved by two-thirds of the voters--an almost impossible task.

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Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles), a breakup foe, described Roberti’s new proposal as “the same old thing . . . because we know a parcel tax isn’t going to pass and the breakup could. So, it’s not a compromise. It’s just another way to get his bill back on track.”

Roberti said his new proposal was presented last week to Assemblywoman Delaine Eastin (D-Fremont), who chairs the Assembly Education Committee that in July rejected Roberti’s legislation to set up a commission to devise a plan to split the 640,000-student district into seven smaller school systems.

Eastin, a potential candidate next year for state superintendent of public instruction, had left the door open to a possible compromise, but Roberti said he has not heard back from her.

She was unavailable for comment Tuesday, but in recent months she has repeatedly voiced strong reservations about setting up a commission with a narrowly focused plan to carve up the sprawling school district.

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But Roberti stressed that he is unwilling to budge on the commission’s predetermined task of breaking up the district “because the public will have the right to vote up or down on the issue.”


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