At the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) annual meeting on December 12, the Board of Education nominated and voted in the Board President and Vice President for the coming year. Ultimately, Jackie Goldberg will serve as Board President and Scott Schmerelson will serve as Vice President as well as holding the role of Chair of the Committee of the Whole. This will be Goldberg’s final year in office, having previously announced her retirement this past summer from the LAUSD Board of Education by the end of her term in 2024. 

The voting process was quick and smooth as both candidates were clearly the consensus choice of their colleagues. They were easily appointed following a quorum of “Ayes” from their cohorts. 

Goldberg has worked with the public for several decades, having first collaborated with the LAUSD Board of Education in 1983, serving two terms. In 2019, she announced her intentions to run for a seat on the Board following the ousting of previous member Ref Rodriguez. She represents District 5, focusing on the Northeast Los Angeles region. 

Goldberg was unanimously reelected on the morning of December 12. Schmerelson, who comes from District 3 and represents the San Fernando Valley was also reelected Vice President. 

“This has been an extraordinary year and I think we’re about to have another couple of extraordinary years because of changes in funding from ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) and new laws from Sacramento, but this board I believe has the opportunity, and has already taken that opportunity to work collaboratively,” Goldberg said. “Whether we agree or not on every issue has become unimportant in the fact that this is a collaborative board.”

In September 2024, pandemic-era federal funding meant for the district, under ESSER, is set to expire. The funding amounted to $5.6 billion and currently supports the salaries of more than 1,800 school employees. LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho recently announced the district has planned a temporary targeted hiring freeze to help counteract the coming loss of revenue. 

Solutions for paying those employees next year present a major challenge the school board will be forced to confront, but Goldberg did not seem fazed. “As I start my final year on this board, I appreciate the support of all of you and I appreciate your vote of confidence,” Goldberg said. 

Meanwhile, Carvalho expressed faith in the board’s ability to reach its goals, citing recent successes in improving rates of student attendance. He mentioned LAUSD’s key plans to sustain district enrollment, which dropped from 639,337 in the 2015-2016 school year to 538,295 in the 2022-2023 school year, representing a loss of just over 100,000 students. He also conveyed confidence in plans to continue increasing graduation rates and sharpen the district’s finances. 

“Madam President, Mr. Vice President, members of the board, and the community at large, we are poised to have an explosive year as far as performance is concerned,” Carvalho said. 

Goldberg is expected to continue to advocate for increased funding in Los Angeles public schools in her final year.. In her retirement announcement earlier this year, she noted that there simply isn’t enough money devoted to each student and their learning outcomes. 

“When I first started teaching in the late 1960s, California was one of the top states in the country in per-student spending. Today, we’re 33rd in the nation,” Goldberg said. “Our students deserve better. As a state, we must do better. We must commit ourselves to long-term solutions to get them what they need.” 

Throughout her career, Goldberg taught for nearly two decades before being elected to the School Board in 1983 where she immediately went to work addressing classroom overcrowding and establishing a dual-language education program. 

“It’s been the honor of my life to advocate for children,” Goldberg said in her retirement speech.

Image obtained via screen grab.

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