L.A. schools Supt. Michelle King: Four questions about her future

The outgoing Los Angeles Board of Education voted in June to extend Supt. Michelle King’s contract through the 2019-2020 school year.

Her backers cite the district’s record-high graduation rate, improved programs for students learning English and reduced expulsion and suspension rates as proof of her effectiveness. But a reconfigured board that figures to support charter schools more strongly takes over this month. It may alter some priorities or contemplate a shift to new leadership.

Here are some issues to consider going forward:

Will King have to change what she is trying to do?

Some of her strategic goals are aspirational — and hard to argue with: 100% graduation and 100% of students meeting entrance requirements for a four-year state college.

But newly elected board member Nick Melvoin has maintained that L.A. Unified is moving too slowly in improving academic markers such as test scores. He’s just one vote, but he and his backers could pressure the district to speed up its progress.

King also has pushed to siphon off enrollment from charter schools and into traditional campuses — or at least stanch the steady flow moving in the opposite direction.

Charters are privately managed public schools that function like nonprofits within L.A. Unified. Their growth to about 16% of district enrollment means that public funding for these students also is leaving the district.

Increasing L.A. Unified enrollment would help ease long-term budget problems. The new board majority, however, may move to increase the number of charters — fundamentally shifting the future course of the nation’s second-largest school system.

Charter-backed candidates win L.A. Unified majority, but can they lead from within? »

Besides charter schools, where might the new board members focus their attention?

Melvoin and Kelly Gonez, who also was backed by charter forces, have expressed concerns about the validity of the district’s rapidly rising graduation rate.

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