Los Angeles School District Spending Frenzy

Los Angeles School District Spending Frenzy

Head of L.A. schools’ technology division resigns

California has been using the “throw more money” at the broken education system for a long time and it is still ranked one of the worst 3 school systems in the United States. There are several reasons for that, not the least of which is educating a large number of illegal immigrants whose first language isn’t English. It isn’t that there isn’t enough money, it’s that the money isn’t spent wisely.

First the two most expensive schools in the country were built in Los Angeles with all of the bells and whistles imaginable. They are public schools. All you have to do is live in the right district in Los Angeles, California and you can send your child to the most expensive public school in America.  In this case the ‘right’ district is in the low income Latino neighborhood where the drop out rate and test scores are among the lowest in the country.

The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools serve 4,200 K-12 students living in and around Pico Union.  The complex is one of three $100-million-plus megaschools recently built in Los Angeles to unburden the city’s overcrowded public school system.

The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex cost $578 million to build. Compare that to Los Angeles’ other megaschool, the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, built for $377 million and opened in 2008,

Now just a few years later we have a new L.A. School District wasted money problem.

The head of technology for the Los Angeles Unified School District has resigned, the latest fallout from two troubled technology efforts: the iPads-for-all project and a new student records system.

Ron Chandler, the chief information officer, headed technology programs for the nation’s second-largest school system starting in 2010. For most of his tenure, district officials described his presence as something of coup, based on his extensive background in private industry and government service.

But Chandler, 52, became associated with two major troubled projects. The first was a $1.3-billion effort to provide every student, teacher and campus administrator with an iPad, a flagship initiative of former Supt. John Deasy.

Chandler was responsible for some of the problems that accompanied the iPad rollout at 47 schools last year. For example, immediately after receiving iPads last year, students at three high schools figured out how to delete the security filter and freely browse the Internet.

Officials immediately took back the devices and some schools made little use of them for the remainder of the year.

L.A. Unified also has had problems remaining on time and on budget in its upgrades of broadband networks at schools — although such difficulties were widely anticipated.

But Chandler’s position apparently became untenable in the wake of a second technology project called My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS. The system eventually is expected to integrate all student records, keeping parents informed, allowing educators to tailor instruction and helping students stay on track with graduation and college requirements. But the system wasn’t ready and caused chaos across the sprawling district of about 600,000 students.

As if to underscore the link between Chandler’s departure and MISIS, new Supt. Ramon C. Cortines tersely announced the resignation at the beginning of an update on the records system.

“There will be a change of leadership … Mr. Ron Chandler, Chief Information Officer, has resigned,” Cortines said. “We thank him for his service.”


When asked at a town hall meeting, about the cost of the two megaschools in LA, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D) said these were not a taxpayer funded projects, they were funded with ‘bonds’.  Maybe she doesn’t know that taxpayers pay the interest and cash in those bonds when they are due.   Still she insisted that the poor test scores in California were the result of underfunding.



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