LAUSD School-Site Budgets Inaccessible by the Public: Is this Parent Engagement?
It’s budget approval season for school committees, yet parents are in the dark
Does LAUSD’s Board not expect parents to actually access school budgets?
It’s budget approval season at school-site committees and lack of transparent data is an inexcusable obstacle to parent engagement. Talk is cheap but average student funding at $30k a year is not. Use of school funds is one small place parents can exercise control — if parents have access to data for all schools. There is no information on LAUSD’s websites or social media accounts on this outage. LAUSD is once again hunkering down and hoping no one will notice their systems are broken!
(The system is still not functional as of March 4, 2023. Check for yourself: find your school, click on “Budget Development Reports”, then “Board Approved Budget”.)
Maria Luisa Palma, engaged parent and self-identified Troublemaker Parent asks LAUSD’s Board to publicly announce the system outage and state when it will be back online. Read the transcript of the February 1, 2023 presentation:
Good evening, Board and committee members. My name is Maria Luisa Palma.
Open Data. Open Gov. Strategic Plan Budget Tracker. Engagement and Collaboration. Honoring Perspectives. All great-sounding initiatives — or should I call them slogans? I’m here to discuss the real status of the district’s financial transparency. The public is unable to access or view school-site budgets. Did you know your websites are broken?
I started to hear from parents a few weeks ago about this problem. I’ve also been checking, with no luck. Some say they’ve been unable to access school-site budgets for months. This same error occurs whether the public attempts to access the data from the Open Data portal or from the School Directory site. (There’s a little button here that says, “Try Again”.) Has this accessibility been broken since the ransomware attack in September?
Last week I contacted the IT Helpdesk, and your staff members I spoke to there had no information to provide about a system outage. I was shuffled around, and finally sent into an unattended voice mailbox in the Budget Services and Financial Planning department. I left a detailed message. No one has yet returned my call.
Board Member Melvoin, I’ve heard you say you are a proponent of data transparency, and I appreciate that. But it’s ironic that the district managed to roll out the new Strategic Plan Budget Tracker last week while school budget report access continued to be broken. And last week, at the DELAC meeting, the Office of PCS (Parent and Community Service) distributed this sheet showing step-by-step instructions on how to access the reports, just as these instructions were included in tonight’s presentation. But it was known by your staff that neither the public nor members of the committee have been able to access the data.
As of last night, Jan. 31st, the SPSA (School Plan Student Achievement), the TSP (Targeted School Population Budget), and some other reports (Budget Availability Report and School Spending Report) are now accessible, although they were not last week. Good work!
However, the following are still inaccessible:
· School Allocation Summary
· Budget Development Reports
School Approved Budget, or
Board Approved Budget, and
· Budget Summaries by Fiscal Year and Month.
Please explain to us, Board members — did you know about this problem? If you didn’t know — why not? And if you did know, then why was the public not informed? And why hasn’t it been fixed?
Please, be transparent. Be accountable. Tell the public. Tell us parents what happened.
· Admit publicly, prominently, on social media, and on LAUSD’s website, that school budget data has been inaccessible to the public,
· State how long the information has been inaccessible,
· State how long until it will ALL become accessible,
· Tell us why it’s taken so long, and
· Most importantly, APOLOGIZE to parents.
Once again, this is another egregious example of disrespect toward parents. Be honest. Be transparent. Maybe, in time, you can earn the public’s respect for you. Thank you for your attention.
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