AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2 “It’s a program to jump-start the reform of these schools….We have to improve the academic performance of these schools, we want them to graduate and to complete the A-G (mandatory college preparatory) curriculum.” The high-school program will be funded with state grants and revenue from taxpayer-approved bonds, Romer said. Seventeen schools are targeted for the program _ none in the San Fernando Valley. Roughly $16 million will be spent for instructional improvements, such as hiring more teachers and counselors and reducing class size. An additional $10 million in bond funds will be spent to upgrade science labs, improve libraries and make other renovations; and $10 million will be spent to upgrade campuses and replace aging furniture. The amount allocated to schools will be based on the number of students and the level of need, Romer said. The idea is to get a start on reform efforts before Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reform program debuts for in the 2007-08 school year. The district hopes that the program will continue as the state repays $2.9 billion borrowed from California’s public schools during a budget crisis. “It’s important to see this as accelerating by one year the owed money by the state,” school board member David Tokofsky said. “This is akin to sending Band-Aids to Baghdad. This is not to be seen as a piece unto itself, but part of a larger district emphasis.” LAUSD has previously worked on improving elementary achievement _ an effort that produced noticeable results. But, in recent years, they began shifting their focus on secondary school reform, to reduce the achievement gap and reduce dropout rates, which according to the state are about 33 percent. The lowest performing high schools in the district that will benefit from the program are: Banning, Belmont, Bell, Crenshaw, Dorsey, Fremont, Garfield, Huntington Park, Jefferson, Jordan, Locke, Los Angeles, Manual Arts, Roosevelt, Santee, Washington Prep and Wilson. Los Angeles’ Dorsey High School’s Principal, George Bartleson, said the money would make a big difference at his school. “It’s going to help us tremendously. I’m concerned right now about funding for staff and this will provide money for additional counselors, lowering class size and improving facilities,” Bartleson said. Naush Boghossian, (818) 713-3722 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! As the state announces that 14 percent of LAUSD’s high school seniors had failed the mandatory exit exam and will not graduate this month, Superintendent Roy Romer unveiled a $36 million program to overhaul some of the district’s lowest-performing high schools. While Romer’s plan has been in the works since September, its release coincides with efforts to fend off a takeover by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has blasted Los Angeles Unified for its high dropout rates and low test scores. The proposed program would target improving instruction, adding personnel, closing the achievement gap and improving facilities. “There’s a myth out there that we’re not doing anything that the mayor sometimes contributes to. We’re doing a good deal and we’re going to do a good deal more and that’s showing in our scores,” Romer said at a news conference.