The LAUSD Needs Real Fiscal Responsibility

The district’s $1.3 billion plan to provide an iPad to every “student, teacher and administrator” has now drawn the attention of the FBI, but moonlighting City Attorney Tamar Galatzan should have been the one to notice the problems. Instead, she was what KPCC’s Annie Gilbertson described as “a fierce supporter of the Superintendent’s iPad program.” Howard Blume of the Los Angeles Times said that she “was one of the staunchest supporters of the original iPad plan.” An opinion piece in the Los Angeles Register referred to “the iPad plan’s chief proponents, Tamar Galatzan and Monica Garcia.”

Ms. Galatzan’s support of the iPad program does not line up with her campaign’s position that “she has also been very judicious in how she spends voter-approved bond money earmarked for her schools.” Bond funds are paid back with interest over 25 years and are a school district’s equivalent of a household mortgage. Just like a mortgage is appropriate for buying a house, the LAUSD is justified in using these funds for construction, capital improvements and long-term maintenance. A consumer would be ill-advised to take on such a long-term obligation to buy a consumer item, like an iPad, that will only last a few years. Similarly, the district should not be using these funds to buy “hoops, ropes and soccer balls” if this is the type of “recreational equipment for school playgrounds” that she brags about on her campaign site.

As the Board Member from District 3, I will protect taxpayers by making sure that bond funds are spent appropriately. Ms. Galatzan tried to undermine opposition to the iPad program by defining it as “hostility toward making sure poor kids have access to technology,” but I understand that in order for the district to continue to have access to bond funds it needs to be accountable to those who are providing the funds. This means actually spending construction bonds on construction projects and long-term maintenance.

According to the LAUSD’s Director of Maintenance and Operations, “it’s inevitable” that the district will have to place a request to sell more bonds on a future ballot. Ms. Galatzan has ignored the promises made to the voters and tried to block the re-appointment of Stuart Magruder to the Bond Oversight Committee for questioning the iPad plan that she championed. Why would the voters approve more bonds if she is still on the Board?