Teacher Matthew Kogan has found himself in a battle he thinks is ridiculous but he's willing to see it to the end. Why, he asks, would a district plan to spend a billion dollars on iPads for every student, a noble goal, when there are so many maintenance issues unresolved that make the school facilities look like third world countries ? (His words). Good question. He and a colleague have started a facebook page where they post the most outrageous examples of deferred maintenance, as a way to pressure the school district into fixing them. Cockroaches, ants, electrical issues, broken toilets, missing floor tiles, missing fire extinguishers and so on .
It's working. It's getting a lot of news coverage, such as our report on today's Studio 11 LA at 5pm. The District says ‘'thanks'' to Matt for bringing these issues to their attention, they'll get right on them. They say the FB page is just one of a number of ways people can report problems, there's a hotline, a website, so forth. And one of LAUSD"s top maintenance and operations officials, Roger Finstad talked to me today at District headquarters about this whole issue. Yes, the picture are embarrassing, yes they're get to work on fixing those and any other problem ASAP, but they have about half the staff they used to before big budget cuts, and about a quarter of the money they'd ideally like for maintenance. The other issue he points out is this. The money being used for iPads is part of a series of voter approved bond funds that were passed for construction and improvements. That totals about 19 billion. About 1 billion of that has been emarked for technological improvements, wi-fi, things like that. Superintendent John Deasy essentially convinced the Board to broaden that definition to ‘technology ‘ to include buying Ipads and the accompanying ( expensive ) software. ( The Bonds were voted on largely before his arrival ). So, Finstad points out we're talking about two pots of money, it's not an ‘'either or'' . Kogan says that ‘s misleading and wrong because when voters approve ‘' construction bonds'' and ‘improvement bonds'' as they did, they never envisioned that being twisted to be able to be used to buy iPads. Certainly some logic there. He and other iPad critics say you can call it whatever you want or justify it however you want and explain it away in terms of ‘'language of the bond measure' ‘and so forth, but bottom line in their view the spending priorities are way out of line.