Inglewood Schools Making Progress Under New State Administrator

Thursday, March 10, 2016 Written by 
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Newly appointed state administrator, Dr. Vincent Matthews, received an overwhelming show of approval at a recent public oversight hearing amid complaints over state control.


Matthews is considered highly qualified because he is one of only a few administrators whose work has resulted in a district successfully regaining control after state receivership has taken place.


“For local control to happen, we have to have great academics inside of the classrooms, (there) has to be rigorous instruction where kids are learning and our finances have to be in the right places.”


“I am a person who needs a plan and we are working our plan to lead to district recovery. Inglewood should have local control back in 3 years, I have no doubt,” Matthews said.


The Joint Legislative Audit Committee meeting convened March 3 to discuss a 4-month old audit performed by the California State Auditor’s Office. 


The audit was done to check the health of Inglewood Unified School District while currently being managed under state control. 


The audit results turned out to be unfavorable. Problems with finances and operations have plagued the district to a fault over the last 3 years.


The audit found that expenditures increased from $115.3 million to $125.5 million between fiscal years 2012-13 and 2014-15.


“Deficit spending has continued in the three years following the state take over and the savings called for in the district’s fiscal recovery plan have not materialized,” Deputy State Auditor Ben Belnap stated.


The Fiscal Crisis & Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT) provides oversight of the IUSD, as well. FCMAT helps California’s local educational agencies fulfill their financial and management responsibilities by providing fiscal advice, management assistance, training and other related school business services.


Inglewood Mayor James Butts reacted to the oversight hearing.


“The report from the FCMAT group was candid, direct and revealed that progress has not been made over the last three years.”  


“I am encouraged that with the new leadership of Dr. Matthews we will finally begin to move forward.”  


“The City of Inglewood will continue to assist him and the IUSD in all ways possible.  Dr. Matthews is the right leader at the right time,” Butts stated.


Senator Isadore Hall wanted to make sure accountability was being taken seriously and that Matthews had all the state support necessary to get his job done.


“When a person has a heart attack, you get them the best medical help. Well, we want to have the very best person to lead Inglewood schools and I think that is Dr. Matthews,” Hall said.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson was not in attendance personally but was represented by his Chief Deputy Jason Spencer.  


The topic of how involved Torlakson is in the recovery of Inglewood schools was a point of interest.


Spencer made it known that nearly 100% of Inglewood schools’ recovery lies with Matthews, the state appointed administrator.


School board member D’artagnan Scorza has been outspoken in trying to help the district find its path and is pleased with Matthews.


“I'm grateful that our state leaders have worked tirelessly to help Inglewood Unified recover and move towards local control. 


“Fortunately, the state audit report reflects conditions of the past...conditions that are improving today.”


“Since the arrival of Dr. Matthews, we've made tremendous progress moving the district forward,” Scorza commented.


An Inglewood school board president and education advocate debated why the audit was lacking in many areas, therefore unsatisfactory. 


Critical of the California Department of Education’s (CDE) management of Inglewood schools, Margaret Richards Bowers eventually praised Matthews’ job performance during her address.


“Why did CDE fail to qualify for an additional seventy-four million from Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) for its sound mitigation program? CDE received only forty-four million of a possible one hundred eighteen million dollars,” Richards Bowers said.


“Measure GG money has not been used to renovate our schools. However, Dr. Matthews is working feverishly on that. Thank God for Dr. Matthews,” Richards Bowers said.


Inglewood Teachers Association’s president, Kelly Iwamoto, felt slighted about not being invited to the oversight hearing.


“Many positive things are happening in IUSD because of dedicated educators putting students first every day by providing them with numerous opportunities to succeed. It's unfortunate that the very people (educators) who continue to keep the district moving forward were not invited and were not given an opportunity to be heard.” 


“The Inglewood Teachers Association actively works on ways to increase parental involvement and form parent partnerships. We lead professional development. We are also constantly working towards increasing partnerships with community organizations. All of these things benefit students,” Iwamoto stated.


Matthews recently published his blueprint, Inglewood Recovery Plan, for the output of returning the district back to local control.


“I can see even this year, much progress will be made. I plan to work myself out of a job,”  Matthews commented.


“Our school facilities have been a big problem but fixing the facilities goes hand in hand with balancing the budget,” Matthews said.


Matthews has been recently credited with spearheading a multi-million dollar renovation at Inglewood High School. He hopes the renovation will be enough to start qualifying for sound mitigation funds sponsored by LAWA. 


Matthews most recently served as Superintendent of the San Jose Unified School District.


Prior to this, Matthews led the Oakland Unified School District as the State Administrator, returning authority to the Oakland Unified governing board. Matthews served as an Area Superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District, the second largest district in California, with 132,000 students. 


He began his appointment as Inglewood’s newly appointed state administrator on Oct. 19, 2015.


The state took over the district in October 2012, when, at the district's request, Governor Brown approved legislation that provided up to $55 million in emergency loans to help the district meet its financial obligations, of which the district has drawn $29 million. The loan must be repaid within 20 years.


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