New Compton Unified School superintendent faces a rocky road
Budget shortfalls loom large
Darin Brawley has been appointed the new Superintendent of Compton Unified School District at a very tough time.
He replaces interim superintendent Carmella Franco, and is the fifth person to hold the position in the last 10 years.
The former superintendent of the San Bernardino County-based Adelanto Elementary District takes over the much larger Compton district (8,027 versus 24,221 student enrollment for the 2010-11 school year) at a time when Compton is in its third year of program improvement because it has not met the federal Adequate yearly progress goals.
The district is also one of 188 statewide that has landed on a watch list because it may not be able to meet its financial obligations for fiscal year 2011-12, 2012-13 or 2013-14.
In fact, according to documents the district filed with the state Department of Education, Compton is projecting a $15,976,664 deficit in the 2012-13 school year; a $24,456,875 short fall in 2013-14 and a $27,629,819 shortfall in 2014-15.
It is one of a record-setting number of districts statewide facing the possibility of not meeting its financial obligations in the next three school years. According to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, this represents 2.6 million children attending financially challenged schools.
Torlakson puts the blame in part on the state’s financial crisis, which has continued to force deep cuts in education spending.
Prior to his appointment in Compton, Brawley spent three years as superintendent in Adelanto Elementary District, which teaches students in kindergarten to grade eight.
During his tenure, five schools in the district—which predominantly serves Hispanic students with African Americans and White comprising the other two top ranking ethnicities—exited program improvement status and several received Title I top performing schools recognition and California Distinguished School awards.
Additionally, Brawley, a San Bernardino native who began working with Adelanto in 2005, has served as a high school science teacher, a middle school assistant principal, principal of elementary and middle schools, a school district director of human resources and deputy superintendent of studentlearning.
Also during his tenure at Adelanto, Brawley, 47, was involved in a fight similar to one that rocked Compton Unified not long ago, where a group of parents at the district’s lowest performing school (Desert Trails Elementary School, where three-quarters of the students are unable to read and write) sought to use the 2010 “Parent Trigger” law to make changes as the school.
Compton Unified School District’s Laurel Elementary celebrates dual honors received from the state—being named a California Distinguished School and a Title I Academic Achievement award winner. Officials recently marked the occasion. Pictured above from left are second grade teacher Guadalupe Velasco, former principal Francisca Owoage, Ed.D., school secretary Gordon Jenkins, current principal Frank Lozier to her left, second grade teacher Marlene Veliz and Interim Superintendent Karen Frison.
More than 50 Compton Unified School District (CUSD) students, grades K through 5, overcame stage fright to perform monologues, poems, and essays at the district’s annual oratorical contest.
Janna Zurita, cousin of former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley, narrowly defeated two-term City Councilwoman Barbara Calhoun, and is expected to be sworn into office no later than July 1. After failing to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote needed to win outright, the outgoing second district councilwoman, who has often been ally of current mayor Eric Perrodin battled Zurita for the council slot. Despite her low showing in the April primary (615 votes), Zurita upset Calhoun by capturing 1,637 (51 percent) of the ballots cast.
Compton students recently spent several days exploring opportunities on their academic career paths. At left, Roosevelt Middle School seventh-grader Natachi Onwudiwe, who said she wants to be either a science teacher go to medical school, won first place in the Compton Unified School District science fair with her project Soil Pit to the Rescue. It demonstrated the effect of acidity on soil and plant growth. At right, youngsters from the Kelly Elementary School band and orchestra warm up before a performance at the Arts and Aviation Career Expo.
In the 31 years she has worked at the Compton Adult School, Saundra Bishop says this is the worst financial situation the program has faced.
“Bar none. It’s the worst time for education period, but adult education specifically and other categorical programs in general,” said the longtime director of the Compton Adult School.