LAUSD Tablet Program Nixed: Superintendent John Deasy's Request For $17.5 Million Nixed

Superintendent John Deasy is seen before the start of a public hearing at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School
Superintendent John Deasy is seen before the start of a public hearing at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the Board of Education will determine cuts to the district budget, in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, March 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

The panel that oversees spending of Los Angeles Unified's bond revenue on Wednesday refused Superintendent John Deasy's request for nearly $17.5 million to jump-start the purchase of computer tablets for every student.

The Bond Oversight Committee voted 7-3 for the plan, but that was one vote short of the eight needed for passage, officials said.

Deasy wanted to borrow the revenue from voter-approved Measure Y funds that had been earmarked for construction of a preschool in the southern portion of the school district.

The $17.5 million would have funded the first phase of his long-range technology program, including the pilot project at 14 secondary schools. Deasy said the tablets are needed for the district to implement the new curriculum known as Common Core State Standards taking effect in 2014.

Ultimately, he wants to buy tablets for all 650,000 LAUSD students, a project estimated to cost upwards of $400 million.

"The BOC rejected the first step in a project to provide all LAUSD students with the technology to succeed in the classroom and workplace of the 21st century," Deasy said in a statement. "The committee's action is a setback to our efforts to make LAUSD K-12 students competitive with the best school districts in the country."

The Bond Oversight Committee advises the school board, which doesn't have to follow the panel's recommendation but usually does.

Deasy said that, as a result of the BOC decision, he had decided against asking the school board to approve it next month.

Tom Rubin, a consultant to the BOC, said several members expressed concern about diverting money from the early-education center, while others questioned whether bond revenue could be used to buy computer tablets and to install wireless technology at schools.

According to Rubin, the BOC's attorneys have previously OK'd the use of bond revenue for technology, although the question remains whether students would be able to take the tablets home.

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