With a record $20-billion operating budget for the upcoming academic year, the L.A. Unified School District board is promising students and parents a reshaped, reinvigorated experience this fall, with thousands of new workers to teach, counsel and sanitize.
The sweeping effort seeks to undue the harms of pandemic-forced school closures and make lasting progress over the next several years. But it also raises questions about what specifically the nation’s second-largest school system is preparing to deliver to its students in this high-stakes endeavor.
Officials have laid out a strategy to hire 930 psychologists and psychiatric social workers, an increase of more than 80%; 2,190 teachers, an increase of 8%; and 770 custodial workers, a 25% increase. And these numbers don’t include expected hiring in after-school and summer enrichment programs.
District officials estimate that spending has increased over the past three years to more than $24,000 per student from less than $17,000. While the permanence of this prosperity is uncertain, spending down available dollars within required timelines could prove a challenge given widespread teacher and specialty workforce shortages.
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