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Friday, December 15, 2017

To my Board District 4 constituents, L.A. Unified community, and beyond:

Today marks the end of the L.A. Unified semester, but our work has only begun.
 
I have found my fair share of obstacles inside the district, but I have never once doubted the ability of a kids first agenda to harness the power of public education to change lives in L.A. Unified. The holiday season gives us all a much-needed opportunity to recharge for the new year, and I can think of no one who deserves it more than the school leaders, teachers, employees, and parents who work every day for the kids that we serve. I want to wish a happy, healthy, and bright holiday and new year to you all.  
 
Read on to find out more about my policy reforms and priorities, the coming years’ school calendar, and how we helped brighten the holiday season for some of our kids and families. 
 
With gratitude,
Nick
Keeping Students Fed: Meal Distribution amid Wildfire School Closure
When more than 250 schools in L.A. Unified had to close last week due to the Southern California wildfires, I worked with the Mayor to ensure kids and families were safe and that updates were communicated effectively. I also urged the district to make sure that the kids who rely on school for 3 meals a day would still be fed. I witnessed these efforts in action at Palms Middle School, one of three sites set up for this purpose. I am thankful to all who participated in this effort and helped ensure the safety and well-being of all our students.
Getting in the Spirit by Giving Back:
The LASPD Backpack Giveaway and Family Gift Drive
With the help of Los Angeles School Police, we surprised 300 students at Stoner Avenue Elementary School with backpacks filled with new toys! I was thrilled to help fulfill their holiday wishes, and even happier to kick around a soccer ball with some promising young athletes. My office also sponsored a homeless family through the Student Health and Human Services Gift Drive. We provided both gifts and basic necessities this holiday season.
A Successful Semester of Policy Reform: Transforming District Communications, Fighting for Increased Public School Funding, Protecting Victims, & Initiating Open Data
During my first months in office, I have written or co-sponsored six successful resolutions and have worked on increasing parent and community engagement, making the district more transparent and accountable, directing more resources to schools, and bringing a new spirit of partnership and collaboration to LA’s public schools. In January, the Board will vote on my most recent resolution, LAUSDATA (Los Angeles Unified Sharing Data for Accessibility, Transparency, and Accountability) – so tune in to the Board Meeting on January 16, 2018 to learn more!
Modernizing Communications with the TECH App – I wrote, and the Board passed, a resolution to transform district communications with a new districtwide smartphone app. We are moving from robo-calls to push notifications to alert parents and school staff of any relevant updates, such as emergency notifications, school closures, and calendar updates.

Fair funding for our schools – I co-sponsored a resolution that the Board passed that directs our lobbying efforts to urge California to drastically increase its investment in public education, which has been woefully underfunded in our state for far too long.

Initiating Open Data – In January, the Board will vote on my resolution to usher in a new era of transparency by calling for an “open data” portal to share data sets related to student achievement, budget, facilities, and more to be easily navigable, accessible, and sharable for public consumption and advocacy purposes.
Protecting Victims of Sexual Harassment – As the past weeks have exposed a pervasive culture of work-related sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behavior across several industries, I called on L.A. Unified to immediately set up a hotline for reporting, conduct a comprehensive revision of current policies, and implement a centralized tracking system for complaints from school sites and central offices, thereby reaffirming that sexual harassment of any kind has no place in L.A. Unified.

Repealing Support for SB 808 – I led the Board in the amendment of our legislative priorities to make sure that the district does not lobby to take away due process rights of charters denied by school districts to ensure that high-performing schools can continue to operate. As discussions on a new state Accountability system move forward, we will advocate to ensure that student achievement is prioritized in all decision-making.
 
Advancing Early Education: Youth Policy Institute’s Early Head Start Opening
Knowing that we have a great need for more innovative early childhood education options to increase student achievement and break the cycle of poverty, I cut the ribbon at the Youth Policy Institute’s new Early Head Start center in Board District 4, and along with other elected officials, commemorated the brand-new, state-of-the-art Early Head Start center that will serve low-income families with infants or toddlers. I will continue to invest in collaborative efforts with our community partners to bring more Early Head Start programs to Los Angeles’s youngest learners.
Uniting for Justice: United Parents and Students Join Community to Advance “A Day of Justice”
I spoke at this year’s “Day of Justice” with over 1,000 United Parents and Students, along with other elected officials and community leaders committing to the advancement of food justice, affordable housing, and safe passages for all. I was proud to take part in this day and speak about the importance of quality public education to break the cycle of poverty in our communities.
School Spot-L.I.G.H.T.S.: Paul Revere Charter Middle School and Le Conte Middle School
Congratulations to Paul Revere Charter Middle School’s newspaper, the Town Crier, on its 2nd national Pacemaker Award for excellence in journalism! I was impressed by the young journalist who interviewed me when I visited Paul Revere during the first week of school; I am especially proud as I was editor-in-chief of a Pacemaker Award winning newspaper when I was in high school!
Click to watch KTLA and Shoes that Fit brighten the day of Le Conte's middle schoolers!
Shoes That Fit and KTLA provided new athletic shoes to every student at Le Conte Middle School in Hollywood. Shoes that Fit is a nonprofit organization that makes sure growing kids from low-income families have a new and well-fitting pair of shoes. Learn more about the organization here.
Stay in the Know:
L.A. Unified Updates
The Calendar is Set: The Board passed a three-year calendar that pushes the start date back to the third week of August for the 2019 and 2020 school years. This calendar gives students and parents an extra week of summer in August while ending the first semester before winter break, which is critical for high school students applying to college. It also gives teachers the three-week winter break they supported. In the past, this Board has flip-flopped with regard to the school calendar without giving our families enough notice. Clarity, consistency, and a specific schedule were critical in this decision. 
Give back this Holiday Season: While the Los Angeles wildfires are widely contained, there are many families dealing with the damage of their aftermath. Click here to read more about what you can do to help.
Stay Tuned for Upcoming Facilities Forum: Last month, I hosted a meeting with Westside parents, our Facilities experts, and local district staff. We will be bringing this forum to the West Valley at Taft High School in the new year. Please reach out to Clayton Rosa in my office for more information. 
Finishing up Applications: Not sure when your college apps are due? Click here to stay up to date with all the important due dates for college applications.
Join the E4E Team: Educators for Excellence (E4E) Los Angeles is forming a team of educators to volunteer on a team of policy and advocacy leaders. They are looking for teachers who can contribute their critical perspective on effective school leadership. Click here for more information and to apply.
Happy Holidays from Board District 4: (clockwise from top left) Nick speaks at ExEd Holiday Party; Stoner Avenue ES kids pose with their new backpacks; Nick hands out awards to young art contest winners at Venice Holiday Sign Lighting; the BD4 team celebrates the holidays with a family potluck; gifts wrapped and ready for BD4 team's sponsored family; Nick attends the Winter Program at West Hollywood ES.
Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates on L.A. Unified,
Board District 4, education news, and much more:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Website
You can also contact my office anytime at (213) 241-6387 or BD4Info@LAUSD.net.


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