During the 2012 My Bright Idea Challenge, students, employees and parents
submitted over a thousand of ideas on ways the District can save money. Although
we are only able to implement a small number of those ideas submitted, here is some
important information related to the most frequently submitted ideas:
The District should eliminate periodic assessments. They are costly and use up a lot of paper.
Periodic assessments are important for measuring student learning of grade-level core curriculum. In addition, they are corrective actions written into our Local Education Agency (LEA) Year 3 Program Improvement plan. In 2007, LAUSD was notified of the District’s Program Improvement (PI) year 3 status because it did not meet the graduation rate requirements or the annual measurable objectives for English/language arts for both English learners and students with disabilities. The No Child Left Behind Act requires the State to implement corrective actions on LEAs that are in PI for three years. Periodic assessments were identified in LAUSD’s plan as one component that would be used to measure student learning and raise the academic performance of all students. For more information, click here.
LAUSD should change to a 4-day week to cut down on costs such as lunches and transportation.
This cost saving approach has been implemented in select districts in 17 states. There is ongoing debate about how much districts can save, and the impact that the longer school day has on student learning. This is an idea that LAUSD can continue to explore as more definitive information becomes available. A major change like this would require many months of planning, deliberation and negotiated agreements with our collective bargaining partners.
Have students and/or employees swipe an ID card to take their attendance automatically
The District is currently exploring the electronic entry of time and attendance information for employees. As part of the MyPay Program that launched earlier this year, the District is working towards capturing employee time and attendance electronically over the next 1-2 years. This will allow for increased accuracy in paying our employees. However, at this time, it has not yet been determined how this information will be captured, but the swiping of a standard LAUSD employee ID could potentially be an option.
As this model pertains to students, the District must follow strict guidelines on key activities within our current Integrated Student Information System (ISIS). Given this, there are currently no plans that will allow for the capturing of student attendance information electronically through the swiping of a student ID.
Give every student an electronic reader (iPad, Kindle, etc.) and buy electronic textbooks instead of paper textbooks
As part of the Information Technology Strategic Execution Plan, the District is currently working with textbook publishers to explore the use of electronic instructional materials for our students. In fact, some LAUSD pilot schools have begun implementing this paperless program through the use of electronic devices. It is believed the cost savings associated with this model would be realized by transitioning to a more modern system in which new editions could be updated online, eliminating the need for warehousing books.
While these pilots have shown success with this new model, there are some challenges to a District-wide rollout of this program including the limited availability of and access to electronic materials via an electronic reader such as an iPad or Kindle. In addition, the cost to provide electronic devices to more than half a million LAUSD students is significant, coupled with the infrastructure required to support the expanded use of mobile educational devices. Further, when the District considers moving from a traditional instructional, paper-based approach on a broad scale, specific consideration must also be given to how this new model will change the LAUSD learning environment and the personalization of the instructional program for each student.
Start a ‘Craigslist’-type of website for online shopping and trading of District goods
On March 8th of this year LAUSD launched its new Up-Trade Barter Exchange Program. This innovative, budget-saving program will allow your school or office to trade surplus (new and gently used) furniture and equipment on-line. No money is exchanged between schools. Instead, a school earns points for trading in their surplus, unused furniture and equipment for points. The school may then use those earned points to acquire or “purchase” much needed furniture or equipment (surplus items traded in by other schools or offices).
To visit the LAUSD Up-Trade site, employees can log-on to https://storescatalog.lausd.net. If there are items that you would like to acquire or sell, please contact your school site administrator.
Let employees and outside organizations buy extra District goods that aren’t needed anymore
The LAUSD has a process for selling items to the public that have been deemed surplus. About once a month, these items are placed online for public auction at http://publicsurplus.com. The auctions usually last about four days. Several other organizations in addition to the LAUSD place their items on this site. To determine whether there is currently an auction underway for LAUSD items, go to http://publicsurplus.com and under Select Region, select California. You will then be prompted to Select Agency. Scroll down to the Los Angeles Unified School District. For additional information regarding LAUSD surplus items and public auctions call (213) 745-5910.
Make the food taste better
The Food Services Division participates in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and serves over 650,000 meals per day at more than 1,000 locations. The menu selections are carefully determined by first meeting the federal and state regulations to the program. Once the requirements are met then it must meet the school board nutrition policies that have been set over the years. The next step is to test the food with a random sampling of 3% of the student population (30,000) and document the acceptance of 75% that give the product a favorable acceptance. The Food Services Division constantly tracks student participation and makes adjustments as needed. In 2011-2012, although sample results showed that students liked the meals, there was a 6-10% decline in student participation. Menu items least consumed were changed to help to increase student’s acceptance of the meals and increase participation.
Let students donate food that they don’t want to eat instead of throwing it away
The Board of Education passed a resolution in 2010 entitled “Healthy Students, Healthy Families, Healthy Communities” that both encourages and allows the donation of uneaten student food. The following is a link and instructions for more information: http://cafe-la.lausd.net/food_donation_program
Include more variety in food selections for students
The variety of food choices will be expanded for the 2012-13 school year by adding an additional week to the lunch cycle menu.
Let students take only what they want to eat
In accordance with the federal school meal programs, the student must take a minimum of three components for the District to receive the meal reimbursement from the federal government. Unfortunately, this has led to waste and the District has raised these concerns on numerous occasions with Washington D.C. Each meal served must have the following components: meat/meat alternate, fruit, vegetable, grain/bread and milk. The student can choose to take all five but they must select 3 of 5 components of which one must be a fruit or vegetable in order for the District to be reimbursed for the meal.
Advertising/Sponsorship and Donations
Sell advertising space on campus and on the side of buses
For safety reasons, advertising or any other markings not permitted in the California Code of Regulations is prohibited. Specifically, Section 1256.5 (f) of the regulations states that “Colors, signs, bumper stickers, numbers or reflectorizing material not required or specifically permitted by this article shall not be permitted on school buses.” Advertising graphics placed on school buses may distract motorists, increasing the chances of accidents. To learn more about Section 1256.5 (f), click here and search for Section 1256.5.
A Senate Bill, SB 1295, was introduced in February 2012 that would allow school districts to sell limited ad space on the exterior of school buses to generate revenues. The bill was rejected by the Senate Education Committee in April 2012.
The LAUSD recently entered into a contract with Alpha Media to coordinate advertising efforts on District vehicles often referred to as “white fleet.” White fleet typically refers to tractor/trailers used to make deliveries to schools and offices. School buses are not included. As indicated previously, advertising on schools buses is prohibited in the State of California. For additional information regarding advertising on District vehicles, please contact Alpha Media at (888) 956-6664 or http://alphamediaads.com, or Gifty Beets in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer at (213) 241-4133.
Allow individuals to make donations to purchase naming rights to schools
The naming of schools is governed by Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education policy.
Eliminate bus transportation
LAUSD cannot eliminate its school bus transportation because most of the services provided are done so as a result of legal mandates.
In a 1981 court order resulting from Crawford v. Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles, LAUSD was required to implement desegregation programs such as the Magnet School Program and the Permits with Transportation Program; these programs provide school bus transportation for students meeting defined eligibility requirements.
School bus transportation for Special Education students is required per Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 504 requires that a school district provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to students with disabilities within the district without charge. Free education is defined as special education and related services which includes “... transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other supportive services as are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education…” Click here to read more about the FAPE requirements for students with disabilities under Section 504.
Charge for bus transportation
Since most LAUSD school bus transportation services are legally mandated, the District cannot charge a fee for such services. Additionally, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, school districts receiving federal funds must provide a “free appropriate public education” to students with disabilities without charge. Free education includes providing related services, such as transportation.
Outsource bus transportation
Currently, 41% of the District’s total transportation service is provided by contract bus companies. Under California law, the District cannot outsource the remaining service provided by District drivers to outside companies. Specifically, Senate Bill No. 1419 prohibits personal services contracting if the contract causes the displacement of school district employees. Displacement includes layoff, demotion and involuntary transfer to a new classification. Outsourcing the services provided by District bus drivers to contract bus companies will be violation of this law since the District drivers will be displaced. Click here for more information about Senate Bill No. 1419.
Launch a district-wide energy conservation program
The District is launching a District-wide campaign addressing all aspects of sustainability – energy savings, water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, carbon footprint reduction, and healthy schools.
One initiative is the School Conservation Program. Schools that enroll in the program and save a minimum of 1% in costs for energy and water will receive 50% of the total cost savings in their school accounts. The current program runs from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Additional information can be found at www.laschools.org/new-site/sustainability/scp or by e-mailing email@example.com. An online enrollment form can be accessed at www.laschools.org/scp-enroll.
Successful schools shared more than $200,000 in the previous program year, with an average award of more than $3,300. The top performing school was Edison MS, with an award of $15,627.
Install motion-activated light switches
These devices are commonly known as occupancy sensors. New schools and modernization additions are required to utilize occupancy sensors to control the lighting. Occupancy sensors are being installed at 13 existing campuses. The District is working with a utility and a technology provider to pilot a wireless occupancy sensor retrofit project at one elementary school, one middle school and one high school to determine the cost benefit of installing them on older campuses.
Install electric hand dryers and motion-activated sink taps
While electric hand dryers and motion- activated sink taps might reduce paper and save water, they also require electricity to run. Increased energy costs and the cost of retrofitting would have to be weighed against the benefits of these technologies. The District is evaluating which alternatives make most financial sense.
Install solar panels on school roofs
The District will be installing arrays generating more than 20 megawatts (MW) of electricity by the end of the 2012-2103 school year. To date, the District has completed installation of 6.6 MW of solar panels at 15 schools and 2 administrative sites, 4 on rooftops and 13 in shade structures. Shade structures generating 12.49 MW are under construction at 37 sites, and site selection is underway for an additional 9 sites anticipated to generate more than 1.83 MW. Two new schools are designed with integrated rooftop solar arrays, and the District’s Design Guidelines require a study be conducted for all new schools and major modernization projects to determine the feasibility and cost effectiveness of solar or other alternative energy technologies.
Start a recycling program at each site
Bright Ideas that involve enhanced recycling at District facilities are good ones for many reasons – diversion of materials from the waste stream saves money for the District’s General Fund, while at the same time reduces our impacts to the environment.
With this strategy in mind, LAUSD recently awarded a District-wide rubbish collection and recycling services contract in an effort to divert more of its waste stream from landfills. Efforts are currently under way to add additional recycling dumpster capacity at schools, as needed. To highlight this effort, the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) has rolled out an End-of-the-School-Year Recycling Incentive Program at all schools. This voluntary incentive program targets a key period of the year when significant amounts of recyclable materials (e.g., papers, files, cardboard, books, etc.) have previously been disposed of as rubbish during classroom and school-wide housecleaning efforts. This is the first of several efforts to be launched in the near future to encourage all District stakeholders to reduce waste-disposal costs, while also reducing our carbon footprint. For more information regarding the District’s recycling efforts, please check out ‘Recycling News’ on the OEHS Website at www.lausd-oehs.org.
Require parents to buy school supplies for students, donate a certain amount of money, or volunteer a certain number of hours each year
California Constitution requires that we provide a free public education, unless a charge is specifically authorized by law. California public schools cannot charge fees in order for students to participate in any required or elective class. This includes security deposits (e.g., locks, lockers, uniforms, instruments), participation fees (e.g., curricular, co-curricular, extracurricular), and supplies (both necessary and supplemental). This law provides all students with access to opportunities regardless of family income.
Provide a website where parents can view their students’ grades and communicate with their teachers
LAUSD launched the ISIS Family Module in 2009 and over half of LAUSD’s schools are using the Family Module. Through this online website, parents can view their students’ attendance and grade records. The Family Module is currently voluntary for all schools, so not all schools may choose to implement it. Contact your child's school to find out if they are using the Family Module and, if so, to get the necessary registration forms and guides. For more information, click here.
Close the Beaudry building and have staff work in sites throughout the District
Many operational divisions are closely interrelated and meet frequently to ensure that schools receive the support that they need. While moving to other owned spaces could be less expensive in the long term, the up-front transition costs would be significant and would pose a risk of disrupting service to schools. Additionally, electronic cost alone, as a total of operating cost would be potentially more expensive in the aggregate. Moving costs, space improvement costs, and decreased efficiency may not justify the lower operating costs.
Have all central staff take a salary cut or furloughs
We have laid off 8,000 employees over the last 4 years, all employees have taken unpaid days (furloughs), and central office expenditures have been reduced to 5% of the budget. Many central office employees were moved from A-Basis (12-month work calendar) to B-Basis (10-month work calendar) in order to achieve additional savings while ensuring that crucial school support activities continue to be completed. In order to maximize stability as we organize local districts, transition to the new A-G requirements and implement the Early-Start school calendar, the decision to place current A-Basis central and local district office employees on E-Basis (11-month work calendar) was changed. The District continues to explore the option of furlough days with our collective bargaining partners.
Provide free benefits to employee but charge a flat fee for each dependent, or provide a basic plan for free and offer other plans for a fee.
Within the District, plan design modifications such as these are under the purview of the Health Benefits Committee (HBC) and are governed by coordinated bargaining. The HBC is comprised of representatives of each union and one District representative, and it is up to that panel to negotiate any changes to employees’ health insurance premiums.
If a school doesn’t spend its whole budget, let them save it and use it in the next school year
Currently, schools that participate in the Budgeting for Student Achievement pilot do have the ability to carry forward unspent funds into the next fiscal year, up to a maximum cap of 25% of their original total general fund allocation. As LAUSD implements a per pupil budget model across the district, all schools will have the ability to carry forward unspent general funds.
Please continue to submit your bright ideas throughout the year by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input is greatly appreciated!