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Lots of Bidders Line Up to Operate Schools in L.A. Unified

Los Angeles Unified is moving full steam ahead with its new school choice policy, which will open up the management of dozens of the district's existing and yet-to-open campuses to outside operators, as well as district insiders. Out in recent days is a list of prospective bidders for the first 36 schools that Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines has pegged as being up for grabs for new management.

There are lots of expected bidders on the list, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, and well-known charter management organizations like Green Dot Public Schools and the Alliance for College Ready Schools. Also listed as a bidder for all 36 schools? United Teachers Los Angeles, which fought tooth and nail to defeat the passage of the school choice policy last summer and has threatened several times to sue the district over what union President A.J. Duffy has called a "giveaway to charter schools."

There are out-of-state groups interested, along with community groups from across Los Angeles. There seems to be no shortage of charter school operators either, despite complaints from parts of the charter sector about the district's requirement that they abide by established attendance zones.

Here's the bidder that caught my eye, though: Montebello Unified School District, whose leaders want to take a run at the troubled and storied Garfield High School in East L.A. I wonder if L.A. Unified officials foresaw that other school districts would be interested in taking on their troubled schools? Montebello Unified leaders say they are already serving a large number of would-be Garfield students who attend two of their high schools in East L.A. through interdistrict transfer agreements.

Stay tuned as this story continues to unfold. Applications are due in early January and Mr. Cortines will make his recommendations to the school board in February.

UPDATE: Just learned via Mike Klonsky on Twitter that the out-of-state group that intends to bid for operating L.A. Schools is the Synesi Foundation, a Chicago-area charter organization set up earlier this year that has close ties to Paul Vallas, the schools chief in New Orleans.

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