LAUSD board to consider affordable housing for employees

A proposal to build affordable housing for teachers and other district workers as a way to attract and retain employees will be presented to the Los Angeles Unified school board this week.

The presentation from central office staff that’s set to go before the Board of Education on Tuesday, June 8, is a continuation of a discussion elected officials had late last year when they considered what the district might do with unused or underutilized land.

The idea of providing housing isn’t new, and it could potentially take years before the affordable units are built. But this week’s discussion about the proposal and its ability to help recruit and retain talent comes at a particularly relevant time for LAUSD, as district and teachers union leaders have raised concerns about the current shortage of job candidates in the labor market and as the district looks to beef up its workforce to support students recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“This critical effort will create 2,000 units of affordable, workforce housing,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said Monday during his weekly update to the community, “which will help recruit the next generation of teachers and school staff and allow them to live in the community they serve.”

He also mentioned that the district plans to embark on a pilot program this summer, through a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, to evaluate how different air-cleaning systems improve air quality. LAUSD schools currently use air filters and keep air-conditioning systems running 24 hours a day to improve the air quality in classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“The goal is to create an even higher standard of air quality at schools,” Beutner said about the pilot program. “Students will not only be protected from airborne viruses like COVID but from the harmful effects of airplane and truck emissions in transit corridors, as well as dangerous pollutants from wildfires.

“Study after study have shown the harmful impacts poor air quality have on children,” he added, “and more must be done to address this issue.”

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On the vaccination front, the superintendent said “thousands” of children and their family members received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine recently through district-supported programs. In addition to running 26 school-based vaccination sites, the district also deployed mobile vaccination teams to 250 middle and high schools over the past two weeks to make it convenient for students to get their shots.

District officials have encouraged students 12 and older to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as they anticipate most students attending full-day, in-person classes five days a week this fall.

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