The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Items 20 and 21 will be heard on Thursday, January 16, 2014, commencing at 8:30 a.m. Written comments can be sent to SBE@cde.ca.gov with the item numbers clearly marked in the subject line. To ensure that comments are received by board members in advance of the meeting, please submit comments by 12:00 Noon on Friday, January 10, 2014.
Send in your comments to reiterate the necessity of meaningful parent and community engagement in the LCAP process. The truest and largest stakeholders in K-12 education -- STUDENTS -- are counting on us so let's continue to represent them and their interests!
[For more on the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plan, please scroll down.]
Keep up the pressure—it’s working! The California State Board of Education is listening. On November 7, 2013, the State Board of Education (SBE) met to hear testimony and discuss both draft LCFF spending regulations as well as a draft template for the LCAP. Both can be found here.
The latest draft LCFF spending regulations provide a lot of flexibility for districts—to choose between “achieving more,” “providing more” or “spending more.” The SBE received considerable feedback to these—from districts who wanted flexibility, to organizations and parents who wanted funds for the high-needs populations to be spent only on those students’ needs. The SBE felt that “achieve more” was the ultimate and implicit goal and not to be considered an option, and they have asked the LCFF working committee to redraft these recommendations. Final regulations will likely be adopted at their next meeting on January 15-16; they must be adopted by January 31.
The draft LCAP guidelines have incorporated many of the elements that Educate Our State and parents like you across the state requested. It was clear from the SBE members’ comments at the November 7th meeting that the SBE is seriously considering feedback from parents in regards to parent involvement in the LCFF and the LCAP. Board members spoke about how they envisioned meaningful parent engagement, not just a check-mark but “whether or not the voice of those stakeholders is represented in the plan that is implemented” (SBE Boardmember Rucker).
NOW is the time to continue the push to define parent engagement in the LCAP to ensure that it is clear to school districts that the LCAP is intended to give parents the opportunity to be a voice for students in student goals and spending priorities. It is likely that the spending regulations for LCFF and the LCAP template will both be approved by the SBE in January 2014; the LCAP template must be adopted by the end of March. For this reason, we have a very narrow window of opportunity to act. It is critical that parents provide specific feedback so that it can be incorporated in the updated version of the LCAP template.
Specifically, we suggest the following feedback points to the SBE for your consideration:
- For creation of a meaningful LCAP that addresses all the needs of students, the LCAP analysis and input must drill down to the school sites. This is particularly relevant in large districts with tremendous diversities in their student populations across the district, and these districts should be required to seek input for the LCAP from School Site Councils or a separate LCAP input committee comprised of equal ratios of parents and staff..
- The “guiding questions” are a step in the correct direction in defining meaningful parent involvement in the LCAP, but they should be included as actual definitions rather than optional guidance. Require districts to report on these criteria.
- Building trust between the district and various stakeholders, including parents, is a critical component for successful implementation of the LCAP and LCFF spending. However, given the history of relationships between parents and districts, there should be a defined accountability process for districts where parents have not been engaged in the LCAP process in a meaningful way. A written response from the district to the parent to address perceived issues is not sufficient to address a deficiency of this magnitude.
Accountability and Transparency
- Spending of base, supplement, and concentration grant funds must be transparent at both the district level and at school sites such that parents and community members can easily determine how educational funding is used to support students in all subgroups in the identified priority areas for all school sites. Specific guidelines to help districts to do this would be valuable.
We encourage parents and concerned community members to express your concerns to the LCFF working group and the SBE through WestEd at firstname.lastname@example.org. You have the opportunity to create a positive legacy for parent engagement. The time is NOW to have a lasting impact on how parents will be engaged in the education process for years to come.
Speak Up NOW for the Parent Voice in Education
Thanks to your input, the state’s draft Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) template released this week includes recommendations made by Educate Our State regarding REAL parent engagement.
But we can’t ease up now! Let’s make sure those crucial “Other Considerations” get into the final accountability plan. Email West Ed now to let them know we’re still watching! (Don’t worry, we know how busy you are, so we drafted the email for you - simply copy and paste the following letter and send to LCFF@WestEd.org…)
Dear State Board of Education,
Thank you for strengthening the parent engagement portion of the Local Control Accountability Plan. I strongly encourage you to also include the following “Other Considerations” into the final plan:
- Are engaged parents and students representative of the school community?
- How have the English learner and parent advisory committees been engaged?
- What type of documentation and/or training has been provided to parent and community stakeholders about the budget, state priorities, and other information useful to engaging in the development of the LCAP?
- What form of outreach to parents has been taken and has it yielded results?
- How are parents engaged by sites in support of the state priorities and goals identified in the LCAP?
The time is now! California is undergoing the biggest change to school spending in nearly forty years, and NOW is YOUR chance to impact how much input parents and community members will have in education spending and accountability. The State Board of Education is taking public comment on the LCFF NOW, before drafting implementation regulations to be finalized January 2014. Don’t miss this short window of opportunity to be a part of a decision that will impact your ability to be a part of the education conversation for decades to come.
Signed into law in July, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) changes how education money is distributed and spent. Previously, funding per student was a complicated formula that was different for every school district, creating inequities across the state. In addition, school districts received a significant portion of their money in more than forty different categories with spending restrictions and state reporting requirements, making usage complicated. For example, Gifted and Talented Education, Arts and Music, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Instructional Supplies were all categories of funding that could not be spent on other programs and services.
The Local Control Funding Formula simplifies education funding by designating a uniform base grant per student across the state (although it varies for different grade levels). These funds have NO spending restrictions. For students who are either English Learners or come from poverty, LCFF also provides additional resources that are to be spent on these students, recognizing the increased resources needed to adequately support these populations. LCFF is described in more detail here.
“Local Control” also means that school districts and schools will develop their own accountability plans (LCAP), which set student outcomes and spending, but have essentially no state oversight. This gives school districts increased flexibility and control, and parents and community members the opportunity to impact goals, spending, transparency, and accountability—but only if districts engage them to participate. In fact, parent involvement is a key element of the plan outlined by the LCFF, but the current guidelines could be interpreted to relegate involvement of parents in the LCAP as merely check marks after the fact rather than as true stakeholders during the development.
In addition, the LCFF will not cure the state’s chronic education funding problem. Despite improvements in the state economy and the passage of Proposition 30, California education spending is still well below what it was in 2007-08 and still ranks 49th in the nation. Local decisions regarding education spending will involve difficult choices. Will additional funds be used to reduce class sizes or restore other programs and services? Which, if any, of the programs and services previously funded by restricted funding will continue to be funded? Will there be transparency for the community to see how districts and schools are spending funds? What accountability will there be that additional resources for disadvantaged students are utilized as designed and are effective?
Although LCFF is now the law, the formal implementation regulations and guidelines for LCFF will not be formalized by the State Board of Education (SBE) until January 2014. In August, the non-profit West Ed held regional public meetings across the state and solicited comments via email to gather public input on LCFF. Educate Our State sent the SBE a formal letter reflecting our LCFF position as part of the public input.
WestEd is still taking public comment that will be forwarded to the SBE. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT to ensure that students have a voice in education decision-making. The SBE meets next on November 6-7, 2013 in Sacramento. It is likely that LCFF will be on the agenda. EMAIL YOUR COMMENTS NOW to email@example.com to be part of the public record for the SBE. Ideas for comments are here. If you are able to attend the SBE meetings in November to provide public comment in person, please contact us.
All of us together must make sure that the true stakeholders in education—the 6.2 million students—are represented in the decision-making processes. NOW is your ONLY chance to make sure that your voice—and the voices of all of us, across California—are heard in these processes.
In addition to action at the state level to increase the parent voice, we also have a School Board Resolution on Parent Engagement that you can use to increase the parent voice in your community. Click here to learn more.