Inglewood Schools the Focus of Assemblywoman’s Town Hall

For immediate release:

Autumn Burke hosted the first open forum on the status of Inglewood’s schools since the state of California took over the district in 2012

More than 100 citizens filled the community room of Inglewood City Hall on Saturday for a town hall meeting on the state of Inglewood Unified School District (IUSD), which has been under state receivership since 2012.

The forum, hosted by Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood), brought together financial and education experts from the state, county, and local levels to discuss the district’s current situation and its roadmap to returning to local control.

“We all know that strong, healthy communities depend upon good schools,” Burke said. “And, sadly we all know that our very own Inglewood Unified School District has been struggling.”

In 2012, nearing financial insolvency, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authorizing a loan of up to $55 million to keep the district open. That legislation also authorized the state Department of Education to take control of the district.

In February, Burke and some of her state colleagues and staff toured three Inglewood schools with Tom Torlakson, the state superintendent of public instruction, and Joe Dominguez, chief deputy superintendent of IUSD.

On that visit, Burke noted, she witnessed school facilities in disrepair, including broken water fountains, missing ceiling tiles in classrooms, and windows painted black.

“I don’t want to spend today rehashing the past,” Burke told the audience. “We have students who deserve to attend safe and innovative schools right now, and reviewing the past will not serve them.”

Jema Estrella, director of facilities and construction for the Los Angeles County Office of Education; Julie Auvil, fiscal intervention specialist with the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assessment Team (FCMAT); and Joe Dominguez each presented detailed information on the district’s infrastructure, finances, and student enrollment and education programs.

Inglewood has suffered declining enrollment for years, losing students and the state funding that goes with them. But gains are being made.

The district has rebounded from a budget deficit that neared $18 million a year ago to a projected deficit of just $1 million. Additional progress is being made in facilities, campus security, and curriculum—starting with the implementation of the federal Common Core standards.

“It’s going to take all of us pulling together to rebuild the district,” Burke said in closing. “Let’s be vigilant, strong advocates for our children and our community.”

Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke represents the 62nd Assembly District, which consists of the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, El Segundo, and Gardena as well as the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Venice, and parts of Del Rey. Additionally, the 62nd Assembly District includes the unincorporated Los Angeles County communities of Del Aire, West Athens, Lennox, Westmont, and Marina del Rey.