A Roosevelt International Middle School taking a math enrichment class by computer at home. Courtesy San Diego Unified

The leaders of city schools in Los Angeles and San Diego appealed Monday for nearly $4 billion in new state funding to provide online teaching amid the COVID-19 health crisis.

San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten and her Los Angeles counterpart Austin Beutner told state legislators it will cost $500 per student to set up online teaching for 750,000 students in California’s two largest school systems.

The said the project would be “the largest adaptive challenge for large urban public education systems in a generation” but is required in order to educate students amid the pandemic.

They said the project would require “wholesale retraining” of more than 40,000 educators and provision of appropriate devices for all students to use at home, regardless of income.

“Knowing the incredible sacrifices our teachers and support staff have made already, it is time to acknowledge that much work lies ahead,” the two superintendents said. “Our schools and families have met this challenge so far with determination, but our students deserve much more, and we want to work with our legislative leaders to ensure each and every student can continue his or her academic journey.”

They said that with the length of the current school shutdown unknown, it is best to move forward with online classes.

“It is time to stop focusing on uncertainty and what we do not know,” Marten and Beutner said. “The one thing we know for certain is we have to serve 750,000 students, so let’s get on with that.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.