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Ongoing Clarification of LCAP Parent Advisory Committee Best Practices

By Cynthia Liu

You should know that September 22, 2014 is the last day for public comment on the regulations surrounding parent and student input into the Local Control Accountability Plan. Here’s some background from a non-partisan state education budget watchdog: California Budget Project (http://californiabudgetbites.org/tag/local-control-funding-formula/)

As past members of the various LCAP Parent Committees around the state, if you have any reflections on the process and suggestions for making the process more transparent, you can participate online at: http://www.webdialogues.net/cs/lcff-erubric-home/view/di/272?x-t=home.view

More background information: http://www.webdialogues.net/cs/lcff-erubric-library/view/di/272?x-t=library.view

You should also know that in Glendale Unified, at least, members of the LCAP parent advisory committee met once a week from about January 2014 onward to develop the LCAP and they did so in periodic larger group meetings with teacher and student advisory committees. Finally, representatives from parent, student, and teacher advisory committees presented their recommendations in unison to the school board. (This information plus written materials generated by the GUSD LCAP were supplied to South Pas USD LCAP parent advisory committee members over the summer.)

Given that best practices are evolving, we should consider what other peer school districts are doing in the 5-Star Coalition of which SPUSD is a part.

We should also try to identify best practices for large and small districts around the state.

BREAKING NEWS: LCAP Plans for “Hybrid” Districts and Regular LCFF Districts?

At a meeting of the Local Control Accountability Plan Parent Advisory Committee in South Pasadena Unified last night, members of the PAC learned some paradigm-shifting and not altogether pleasing news about the scope of their work on the district budget.

Their small district outside Los Angeles was apparently a “hybrid” district that did not receive large amounts of supplemental funding from LCFF nor did it qualify for concentration grant money intended for low-income, English language learner, or foster youth students — and as a consequence, district administrators told the assembled PAC parents that they were advised by Ron Bennett of School Services to instead focus parent and community energies on shaping the $200,000 or so of funds from supplemental LCFF funds, with an additional $700,000 or so swept in from the overall budget that was apportioned by the school board.

Given that the total budget for this small district is about $38 million, even $900,000 of it is a small proportion of the whole amount.

Needless to say, the idea that a consultant — even one as well-informed and respected as Ron Bennett — could significantly alter the scope of the LCAP is troubling. This varies hugely from what districts were told by county offices of education and the California Department of Education itself, where it was understood that districts were to put the entire district budget on the table for all stakeholders to discuss.

If narrowing LCAP activities to supplemental funds only for certain districts is to occur, no California Department of Education regulatory announcement that we’re aware of has been made of this and we find it strange that few, if any, other districts at this time are reporting such a move. No amendments to AB97 have been submitted, voted, or signed into law that we’re aware of. We of course welcome corrections to our understanding if they exist.

Los Angeles Unified, to its credit, has encouraged its Parent Advisory Committees to engage with the entire $6-plus billion budget, which KPCC reported on today.

What’s the situation with your district? Is this news to you or have your Parent Advisory Committees been asked to only address supplemental funds instead of the whole budget? Sound off in the comment below and sign up for more updates from California Coalition of Local Control Accountability Plan Committees.

We’re seeking clarification from the state’s LCFF agency and from Ron Bennett directly and will report on the responses we receive.

California Legislative Analyst’s Office Report on LCFF: Dec 13, 2013

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released an updated version of its report on Local Control Funding Formula. The version I’ve put here is current as of December, 2013.

You might want to read the Executive Summary and decide if you want to get into the weeds.

Legislation enacted in 2013–14 made major changes both to the way the state allocates funding to school districts and the way the state supports and intervenes in underperforming districts. The legislation was the culmination of more than a decade of research and policy work on California’s K–12 funding system. This report describes the major components of the legislation, with the first half of the report describing the state’s new funding formula and the second half describing the state’s new system of district support and intervention. Throughout the report, we focus primarily on how the legislation affects school districts, but we also mention some of the main effects on charter schools. (This report does not cover the new funding formula for county offices of education [COEs], which differs in significant ways from the new district formula.) The report answers many of the questions that have been raised in the aftermath of passage regarding the final decisions made by the Legislature and the Governor in crafting new K–12 funding and accountability systems for California.

(If you have a Crocodocs account, you can comment/annotate this document, or comment in the comment section to this post.)

Los Angeles County Office of Education Bulletin #3747: Eight State Priorities and Four Concentration Grant Groups

This is a memo all Superintendents of Schools received from the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE), dated January 10, 2014.

Members of the Parent Advisory Committee are asked to seek input from the community with regard to ideas for improving schools in eight major areas of school operation and culture listed on page 2 of 8 on the actual bulletin (skip the memo — scroll down to page 8 out of 13 below). These are called “Eight State Priorities.”

Under Local Control Funding Formula, there are four groupings of students who will receive additional funding under Prop 30.

We should look at all eight areas and give special attention to the four groups who get concentration grants. How can programs better serve the needs of LI (low-income), Special Ed, ELL (English language learner), and foster youth?

How Is California’s Biggest School District Handling Local Control Funding Formula?

Los Angeles Unified presents an especially tough challenge to the town hall format of planned Local Control Accountability Plan activities designed to solicit ideas for shaping the district’s budget. As the second-largest school district in the nation, LAUSD educates about 640,000 children in grades K-12 (and also runs adult education) in a 720-square mile area that overlaps schools in the city of Los Angeles and county of Los Angeles.

To compare: the entire country of Finland’s K-12 school population is about 650,000 children.

So in order to prevail over geographic size and sheer numbers of children, LAUSD must coordinate outreach to five sub-districts within the overall urban district. They are, North ESC, South ESC, East ESC, West ESC, and ISIC ESC.

Here’s what Los Angeles Unified’s Parent Community Services branch is making available to parents as part of their outreach. The short take: there will be a total of 47 members of the LCAP Parent Advisory Committee for all of LAUSD to represent an enormous population of families with children attending LAUSD schools. Seven will be selected by LAUSD School Board members, 6 parents or guardians for each sub-district will be selected from various groups that will receive the concentration grants intended to supplement the resources required to teach children from low-income backgrounds or are foster youth, English language learners. Finally two parents in each of the five sub-districts will be at-large representatives.

The parents or guardians of ELL will be chosen from  District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) for all of LAUSD, which currently has 60 representatives. Each of the five sub-districts has 10 committee members and 2 alternates, and each of the five sub-districts will select 2 people from among the 12 to be the ELL representatives on the Los Angeles Unified LCAP Parent Advisory Committee.

You can see the charts that explain it all here:

For comparison purposes, a small suburban district outside the city of Los Angeles has 19 parents on their LCAP Parent Advisory Committee, with three elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school  in the district.

For hands-free or on-the-go information about Local Control Accountaibility Plans, listen to this podcast discussion between Sarah Auerswald of MomsLA and Cynthia Liu, K-12 News Network.com that discusses much of this same information.

There’s money on the table for our kids for the first time in a long time. We still need a long term solution to funding our schools. But for now — don’t leave that money on the table! This is our chance to finally shape budgets to reflect our values and priorities.

Questions for all of you:

  •  how many parents are serving on your Parent Advisory Committee?
  • how many schools are there in your district?
  • would it be helpful for you to organize in the 3-1-1 model (3 elementary schools, one junior high, one senior high) as this is often a feeder school model in many districts?
  • how has your district’s communication been with you so far?
  • do you know who to contact on the Parent Advisory Committee if you aren’t on it yourself?
  • do you have sufficient access to your representatives to have your suggestions or concerns addressed?

Please sound off in the comments!

Know your rights, know the law.