Photo by John Schreiber.

The City Council unanimously voted to hire a consultant to provide analysis and recommendations on the creation of a savings account program for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The vote cleared up $80,000 for the hiring of the consultant to help research the creation of a program. City Councilman David Ryu, who introduced the motion, has pointed to research concluding that child savings accounts can increase a student’s likelihood of attending college.

“It’s well past time that we start thinking outside the box to develop policies that boost college readiness, attendance, completion rates, and ensure our students have a fighting chance in today’s and tomorrow’s economies,” Ryu said.

“This vote represents a critical next step toward making higher education a reality for children in LAUSD.”

Under the proposed program, $50 would be deposited in a savings account for each kindergartener when they enroll in a district school, and that contribution could potentially be matched by private donors.

The cost could be between $2.7 million and $3.4 million annually for the city, and the account could grow to hundreds of dollars by the time the child graduates, according to a city staff report.

One potential problem noted in the staff report is that LAUSD does not just cover Los Angeles, but includes all or part of 31 smaller cities, including West Hollywood and San Fernando.

If the city created a program for all the district’s students, it would be giving money directly to thousands who are not residents of the city, which “may pose operational and legal challenges” in replicating programs in other cities, the report said.

The district has roughly 44,000 students in kindergarten this year within the city’s boundaries, but 55,000 districtwide. If the city were to donate $50 per student, it would cost $2.7 million per year for students who live in Los Angeles or $3.4 million for all of the district’s students.

—City News Service

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