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31 LAUSD Campuses Files Papers To Become Charter Schools

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — More than two dozen Los Angeles Unified schools have applied to become charger schools this year, a direct result of large and unexpected cutbacks in funding for economically disadvantaged students.

LAUSD schools with at least 40 percent of its students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds qualified for extra money called Title 1 funds – for now. Next year, the district is changing the percentage from 40 to at least 50 percent of the student body, taking much-needed funding away from schools already feeling the pinch of budget cuts.

One of those schools is Hamilton High School, where 49 percent of the student body is economically disadvantaged. The school will lose $460,000 in Title 1 money in 2012, so the school is looking to convert into a charter school.

If Hamilton were to become an independent charter school, funding from the state for each student would come directly to the school, which would have its own school board and be responsible for everything from school security to curricula to cafeteria food.

"As the principal of the school I have to do what's best for my kids and if this is what it takes, then that's what I'm going to do," Principal Gary Garcia said.

Thirty-one LAUSD schools have filed letters of intent to explore the idea of becoming a charter school. Click here for the full list of schools looking to convert into charters.

District officials say that even if those schools were to successfully convert into charters, they would still rely on the district for many services, becoming affiliated charter schools. Hamilton is exploring the independent charter school route for full autonomy.

"Can charter schools really do a better job than public schools?" said Jose Cole Garcia, director of LA Unified Schools division. "It depends. We have some charter schools that are really showing good results with more local control and some that aren't, so part of our job is to support the quality and hold those that aren't accountable."

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