In an April 21 letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, Superintendent Austin Beutner wrote: “As the son of a public-school teacher and the product of a great public education, it has been an honor to serve as Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified for the past three years. It is the most rewarding job I’ve held during my nearly 40-year career.”
Although the Pacific Palisades resident said he weighed a request to consider an extension of his contract that expires on June 30, he declined, writing, “I believe that it is fitting that a new superintendent should have the privilege of welcoming students back to school in the fall.”
In his letter, Beutner details his accomplishments:
* Transformed Los Angeles Unified from a top-down, one-size-fits-all bureaucracy into 44 nimble local teams, each dedicated to the community it serves.
* Reduced central office expenses to generate about $150 million in annual savings that were immediately reallocated directly to schools.
* Settled open contracts with all labor groups during the 2018-2019 school year to create a shared path forward. In collaboration with labor partners, restructured the cost of health benefits resulting in savings of more than $6 billion while still providing the same benefits to employees.
* In 2019, reduced chronic absences while students achieved across-the-board improvement in English and math scores on state tests; a record 80% of 11th graders took the SAT.
* Increased graduation rates to a record 81% in 2020.
* Created the Primary Promise to help elementary school students build a foundation in literacy, math and critical-thinking skills. The initial cohort of 2,500 high-needs students who were struggling to read have already caught up to their first-grade peers in just half a year. Achievement for elementary school students will continue to show significant gains as the program is expanded to all schools when students return to classrooms.
* Led the passage of an historic $7 billion school-construction bond with the overwhelming support of 71% of voters. These funds will allow LA Unified to update and maintain top-notch school facilities.
During the pandemic he oversaw:
* Distribution of more than 123 million meals to those in need: 93 million to children and 30 million to adults.
* Distribution of 30 million items of supplies including masks and hand sanitizer, diapers and baby wipes, clothing and shoes, toys and sports equipment, books and school supplies to families in need.
* Establish LA Students Most in Need, a charitable fund that raised $40 million to help families in the communities we serve.
* Procure and distribute computers and internet access to 500,000 students to keep them connected with their school community and help them continue to learn.
* Lead efforts at the state and national level to create a “Marshall Plan” for schools to address the lack of adequate resources that schools in Los Angeles have suffered from for more than a decade.
Reopen schools in the safest way possible by:
* Providing regular COVID testing along with contact tracing to school staff, students and their families as part of the most comprehensive, school-based COVID-testing program in the nation.
* Putting in place health and safety practices at schools that exceed CDC guidelines.
* Upgrading air-filtration systems in all classrooms and 80 million square feet of buildings. The air is filtrated 24 hours a day through the equivalent of an N-95 mask.
* Providing vaccinations for school staff.
* Establishing 25 school-based vaccination sites for families in communities that lack access to health services.
“The past three years have presented LA Unified with unprecedented challenges,” Beutner wrote. “I’m proud to say we’ve risen to the occasion and grateful to have worked alongside so many who are deeply committed to helping children. It has been my privilege to contribute to work that reinforces one of the greatest achievements in human history: a free public education for every child.
“Education creates a path out of poverty for many of the children we serve and the promise of greater opportunity for all students. Education is fundamentally about what’s next. And I am optimistic about what’s next for students and their schools in Los Angeles Unified. All of us have a duty to contribute what we can in the time we have – to ensure that those who follow have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life. Thank you for the opportunity to serve.”
(Beutner had a three-year contract with a base salary of $350,000.)
LAUSD SUPERINTENDENTS (2006-PRESENT)
David Brewer (Oct. 2006-Dec. 2008)
Ramon Cortines (Jan. 2009-Apr. 2011)
John Deasy (Apr. 2011-Oct. 2014)
Ramon Cortines (Oct. 2014-Dec. 2015)
Michelle King (Jan. 2016-Sept. 2017)
Vivian Ekchian (Sept. 2017-May 2018)
Austin Beutner (May 2018-June 2021)