By Legislative Advocate Andrea Ball and Teri Burns, Sr. Director, Policy & Programs
A final two days of sessions to gather input about implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula drew capacity crowds Aug. 12-13. The sessions were facilitated by WestEd on behalf of the State Board of Education and California Department of Education. They provided local governing board members and other education advocates an opportunity to weigh in as the State Board and CDE develop regulations, templates and guidance for local educational agencies to implement LCFF.
LCFF is a major restructuring of school finance and presents significant opportunities and challenges to local governing boards to make decisions to support their students and school systems. Thanks to the local board members, CSBA officers and directors who testified and submitted comments. Your voices will be critical for informing State Board and CDE decisions on key elements of LCFF.
Sacramento and Redding
The Aug. 12 session in Sacramento included an audience in Redding participating via video from the Shasta County Office of Education.
Teri Vigil, a Fall River Joint Unified School District board member, spoke at the Redding location about the needs of small, rural districts: “We have challenges that other districts don’t share: Large transportation costs, as we are 1,200 square miles. High socioeconomic challenges, and a large English-language learner population. Please consider these areas when funding small rural schools, as most show all of the target areas.”
Priscilla Cox, board member from Elk Grove Unified School District, participated in the Sacramento session, where groups representing school boards, superintendents, business officials, parents, school personnel, civil rights advocates, charter schools, English-language learners and a variety of nonprofits testified.
“As a long-time board member, I am very enthused about the new opportunities afforded with the dramatic and long-awaited changes in school funding and the prospect of working with our communities to actively engage parents, employees, and students in the discussion of strategies to provide the best public education possible,” Cox said.
She called for “local control and flexibility” to include a “consistent, adequate, predictable funding source with the ability for governance teams to designate the best use of funds at the district level with collaboration from school sites and parent community.”
Also at the Sacramento session, Diana MacDonald from the California State PTA recommended districts start training parents now on how to participate and the facts they need to know to give valuable input. She stressed sending information home in languages understandable to those parents. Tell parents how they can be selected to be on advisory committees and how to share their input if they are not selected, she urged.
Davis USD trustee and California Forward Director Susan Lovenberg shared that the CORE districts (that worked together to win a waiver from NCLB requirements) are a good model of the peer-to-peer assistance that should be the goal of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence that will be created to assist districts in these LCFF efforts.
Bakersfield and Fresno
The Aug. 13 session at the Kern COE in Bakersfield included testimony from Fresno by remote feed. The Fresno audience included a number of representatives from the Hmong community who called for recognition of cross-cultural differences in education.
In Bakersfield, Kern county Superintendent Christine Frazier and State Board of Education member Aida Molina welcomed the participants. Karen Stapf-Walters, executive director of the State Board of Education, expressed appreciation for members of the public taking time to attend and provide recommendations on LCFF.
During the session there were over 40 comments from participants at both sites. There were several comments on the need for districts to reach out to parents at times and locations that will allow them to participate. A number of district superintendents commented on the need for technical assistance and support to be provided in a manner similar to the “AB 1200 process” – that is, county office support when needed and a “FCMAT-like” entity that can call upon experts from around the state to provide targeted assistance.
CSBA Region 9 Director Chris Ungar and Director-at-Large, Hispanic, Kathryn Ramirez were on hand to testify. Ramirez noted the need for districts to use funds for districtwide as well as school programs in order to serve students. Ungar spoke of the importance of community engagement in meeting the goals of LCFF to align local accountability plans for improved student outcomes with budget expenditures. He also called for clear, consistent and timely information from the state on the template the State Board will develop for Local Control and Accountability Plans. Although he did not testify, San Luis Obispo County Superintendent Julian Crocker was also at the session and took time to talk with attendees.
Stay up-to-date on LCFF resources at www.csba.org/LCFF.