May 28, 2018
The Los Angeles school board has hired Austin Beutner, a former investment banker, as superintendent of L.A. schools.
Beutner is no newcomer to the district. Last year, the district appointed Beutner to lead a task force to “look into the district’s financial problems,” claiming that “rising pension costs” were out of control. (Never mind that the district itself reported an ending balance of 685 million dollars last year, and projected a surplus of 373 million dollars at the end of this school year!)
Among the recommendations of Beutner’s task force was to look into “getting more money out of the district’s real estate holdings” – not a surprise, given Beutner’s stint with the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm specializing in “leveraged buyouts” of big companies and then selling off their assets!
Beutner’s appointment suggests that the district will continue its ongoing, open attack on workers’ pay and benefits – in particular, pensions and retiree health benefits. But the fact that the last superintendent, Michelle King, was a former teacher and school administrator did not change that policy – in fact, Beutner’s “advisory task force” had King’s blessing and support.
For many years now, big business has used the multi-billion-dollar budget of the L.A. school district as one big honey pot – as district officials laid off school workers, increased class sizes and neglected maintenance, in order to funnel millions of dollars to corporate coffers.