Charter backers win their first L.A. school board majority

The Los Angeles Unified School District underwent a dramatic political shift Tuesday night, as the curtain dropped on what has been the most expensive school board election in the nation’s history.

The election has been a proxy war between wealthy charter school advocates and public employee unions. Charter supporters appeared to secure their first-ever majority on the seven-member Los Angeles Board of Education, a move that could accelerate the already-rapid expansion of charter schools across the city.

Election day brought to an end a more than $14-million campaign fueled by outside spending. The latest figures show charter supporters outspent their union opponents. But union spending, mainly under the banner of United Teachers Los Angeles, also reached into the millions.

The president of the school board, Steve Zimmer, conceded his race. Addressing a crowd of supporters, Zimmer called his loss to candidate Nick Melvoin “devastating” and vowed never to run for office again. In a sign of how deeply polarizing this election has been, and how difficult it will be to forge consensus in the weeks and months to come, Zimmer said he would not call Melvoin.

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