LAUSD shifts millions of dollars to close education gap

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The L.A. School Board has signed off on a $6.6 billion budget for the school year that funnels hundreds of million of dollars to the district’s most disadvantaged students. The spending plan calls for a boost in new teacher hires – to up to 12,000 instructors – as well as more librarians, nurses, counselors and tutoring programs. Class sizes will also come down. The most notable aspect, though, is a shift of more than $800 million to students who are low-income, learning English or in foster care. The teacher’s union has criticized the budget for not including pay raises after years of flat salaries, and for not doing more to reduce class size. Superintendent John Deasy says the budget is an improvement. But he says California schools are still drastically underfunded.

asianaThe pilots of an Asiana Airlines jet that crashed in San Francisco last year mismanaged their landing and compounded their problems by unintentionally turning off an automatic speed control system, according to a federal safety panel. Three people died and more than 180 were injured when the plane clipped a sea wall and caught fire on the runway. Acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart says a combination of factors led to the crash. “We had a pilot that was new in this airplane,” Hart said. “We had an instructor who was new as an instructor, we had issues with fatigue, we had issues regarding understanding the automation. A lot of issues lined up the wrong way as it turned out to produce this result.” Asiana says it’s accepted the recommendations made by the NTSB, including revamping its pilot training procedures.

A former city employee says L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon told her that he lived outside his district when he was elected. Alarcon and his wife Flora are on trial for perjury. They’re accused of lying about where he lived when he ran for office in 2006 and 2008. Carolyn Walker worked with the Department of Transportation when Alarcon was in office. She says when she congratulated Alarcon on his election, he said “You know, I wasn’t even living in the district when I was elected.” The Alarcons’ lawyer tried to cast doubt about Walker’s memory of the event. But she insisted that she remembered it well because she was surprised and angry about his reply. Alarcon was termed out of office last year.

viterbiA tech business pioneer has made a second major gift to USC. Andrew Viterbi, who co-founded the cell phone technology company Qualcomm, and his wife have donated $15 million to the university. A total of $5 million will endow the executive director’s position at the USC Shoah Foundation, which collects video testimonies from survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides. The remaining $10 million will fund five professorships and graduate fellowships at USC’s engineering school. The engineering school is named after the Viterbis, who donated $52 million to the school a decade ago.

snakeThe drought may be contributing to an increase in the number of people being bitten by snakes in California – rattle snakes in particular. Doctors with the state’s Poison Control System nearly 100 people have received anti-venin for rattlesnake bites this year, well ahead of last year’s pace. Some biologists believe rattlesnakes are moving further from their territory in search of food and water. Wildfires this year have also driven snakes from their habitat and into more populated areas. Whatever the reason, officials say there’s no doubt bites are up.