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LAUSD to spend $200 million in emergency coronavirus response costs

Superintendent says the district is developing an initiative that will focus on younger students, who many experts say have more difficulty staying on track with distance learning.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Monday that the district will incur $200 million in estimated emergency coronavirus response costs by the end of the school year, as anticipated budget cuts loom.

In a live-streamed and televised announcement, Superintendent Austin Beutner said the expenditures went toward thousands of meals, training for educators thrust into remote instruction, and technology procurement among other expenses.

Although state officials may relax those rules in the current crisis, they have not committed to covering incurred costs by L.A. Unified.

“We are far enough into this crisis we can begin to estimate the cost for our schools,” Beutner said. “At the outset, we said we were going to do the right thing for students and families — and the right thing for our employees who serve students and families. That remains our objective.”

Beutner said the district is developing an initiative that will focus on younger students, who many experts say have more difficulty staying on track with distance learning. That plan may involve hiring more teachers or otherwise lowering class size, a striking contrast in tone with the remarks of Mayor Eric Garcetti who called for furloughs of thousands of city workers.

The district’s list of coronavirus emergency expenditures include:

— $78 million for food aid. This is normally reimbursed by the federal government, but L.A. Unified is technically violating restrictions by feeding adults as well as children.

— $50 million for expanded summer school. This will pay for a “distance learning” program to address learning deficits caused by campus closures.

— $31 million for teacher training to prepare its work force for remote instruction.

— $23 million to connect students from low-income households to the internet.

— $9 million for safety equipment and supplies, mostly in connection to the ongoing “Grab and Go” food program at 63 campuses.

Beutner said the Board of Education was kept informed of the expenditures, and that there will be no significant reductions to school staffing in the coming school year.

On Monday, the superintendent planned to hand out meals at Grab and Go sites to mark 10 million meals distributed to children and adults by the district since it began in mid-March.

City News Service contributed to this report. This is a developing story.