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    Posted June 20, 2014 by
    Porter Ranch, California
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    Two Wrongs Do Not Make A Right

    A letter to the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council
    By Carl Petersen
    My name is Carl Petersen and I am running for the District 3 seat for the LAUSD School Board. This seat is currently held by Tamar Galatzan.

    Earlier this month the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council held a town meeting regarding the funding of the Porter Ranch Community School. In the Facebook post announcing this meeting, the PRNC stated that the “State of California has created a formula that will reduce [the school’s] overall budget by 90%” (emphasis mine). During this meeting one of the council members also asked how a school was supposed to operate on a budget of $26,000 (the school community was actually quoting a number of $24,900). These numbers all seemed unbelievable and caused considerable alarm within the community.

    Fortunately, the alarm was raised on numbers that were not accurate. The budget released by the district shows that the school is actually receiving $5,215,042. One line item in the budget, “Targeted Student Population,” is equal to the $24,900 that was being quoted. These are state funds that follow students who are English language learners, eligible for school lunch or who are in foster care. They have nothing to do with pilot schools. Therefore, even the pilot school budget was not reduced by 90%. These funds were eliminated in July of last year. Unfortunately, this fact was not relayed to the school as they were deciding to become a pilot school.

    When I discovered this information I wrote a blog detailing the mistake and suggesting that Ms. Galatzan’s failure to correct the PRNC was proof that the school district’s budget is too big for people to understand and that the district is too big to efficiently manage. Since I treated the PRNC’s actions as a misunderstanding rather than intentional, I was very surprised to receive defensive tweets in reply under the PRNC handle. One stated that “No one believes the total budget was $249,000,” when in fact the information conveyed to the public was a much lower amount. Another stated that “overall” was simply a typo which should have said “overage.” “Overage” is not a term I have seen used in budgeting and it is certainly not used in the LAUSD budget.

    To make matters worse, a correction has not been made to the Facebook page. A mistake of this size needs to be corrected so that the public is fully aware of what is going on. At this point, I also think that an investigation needs to be initiated to find out if this false information was intentionally released to the public.

    It was wrong of the district to lead people to believe that the PRCS would be getting funds that were already eliminated by the state. However, I also do not think that it is right to mislead people to feed outrage, especially when the school board member was eager to use this outrage to scapegoat Title I schools. I hope the appropriate actions to correct these actions will be made.

    Carl Petersen
    I am running for the District 3 seat on the LAUSD School Board. For additional information about my campaign, please visit www.ChangeTheLAUSD.com.
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