New school to teach entrepreneurship is approved, location isn't
A new school to teach middle school students about entrepreneurship was approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles Board of Education. But the board stepped back from original plans to place it at Venice High after several parents and students complained that they were told about the campus only last week and that it would siphon off needed space and resources.
Instead, under an amendment by board member Steve Zimmer, the district and Venice community will work together to seek a location.
That didn’t disappoint the school’s founder, Sujata Bhatt, now a teacher at Grand View Boulevard Elementary in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles. She said she felt “relief and joy” about the plan’s approval and would work with the community to find a suitable home.
“It’s about creating quality schools for kids,” she said. “I want students to be excited about learning.”
The Incubator School marks the latest effort in L.A. Unified to give more freedom and flexibility to principals, teachers and community members to create their own innovative programs. The new campus will be a "pilot" school, which allows educators to control their curriculum, staffing, schedule and other elements. It is seen as a way to give district educators some of the same freedoms to craft their own schools enjoyed by charter campuses, which are publicly financed but independently run.
But pilot campuses also give administrators greater power to transfer out educators than in traditional schools -- one reason United Teachers Los Angeles has looked carefully at each one approved. Teachers who choose to work at pilot schools must sign a one-year contract that does not place seniority as the top factor in job placement.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said the union would review the board decision before taking a position on it. To control the quality of the educational plan, Fletcher said, the union believes that those proposing it should operate it for a year to “get the kinks out” before seeking pilot status and a shorter contract.
Aside from the Incubator School, the board also approved two other pilot schools, Francis Polytechnic High School and WISH Secondary Media Arts School. The approval brings the number of the district's pilot schools to 49.
-- Teresa Watanabe