At a pep rally for school administrators, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) superintendent, Austin Beutner, outlined his vision as well as the state of the country's second-largest school district.
More than 1,500 people packed the Hollywood High School auditorium to hear what the 2018-2019 school year has in store. Appointed by board members in May, Beutner has no background as an educator but his history as a businessman is giving administrators, like Benjamin Franklin High School Principal Regina Marquez Martinez, hope he will be able to tackle some of the district's problems.
"I think it's great," Marquez Martinez said. "You cut down the bureaucracy and you focus on the school's side, you focus on supporting and being the cheerleaders for the teachers...I think it's a wonderful way to go."
Phineas Banning Senior High Principal, Rudy Mendoza echoed the same optimism for the new school year that begins Friday, August 10.
"I think it was very inspirational and very clear onto what his expectations are," Mendoza said. "I really like the fact that he explained to keep it very simple."
However, Beutner laid out a reality for the audience. For every 100 high school students in LAUSD, only 12 will graduate from college. When it comes to literacy, one in four students do not know how to read English at grade level. He also said there are some parts of the district where it takes a student over one hour to get to a campus that has a sufficient number of advanced classes.
Then, Beutner touched on the looming fiscal cliff.
"When the school year starts, we will have 700 million left in the bank and if nothing changes we will be spending 450 million of that to cover the deficit for the year," Beutner said.
The LAUSD board approved the district's current budget in June, that gave board members an extra year to fix its financial problems. Melissa Coley, Orthopedic Magnet High School principal, sees the budget problem as an issue the district leaders should not handle alone.
"I think it's all of our responsibility. Our community, Los Angeles as a whole needs to support our schools and I have confidence in our leaders to make the best decisions," Coley said.
But with the school year starting soon, Beutner wanted administrators to focus on the present and help each other to help the district and the students succeed.
"I promise to be a relentless advocate for you and the students in LA unified," Beutner said. "Working together, we can help our students do great things."