At a meeting on Thursday, the State Board of Education will discuss the amount of local autonomy that schools will have to spend money under the recently passed Local Control Funding Formula.
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When the California Legislature passed Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-2014 state budget in June, public schools across the board faced changes in the way they receive funding. Santa Clarita Valley schools were no exception.
Under the new Local Control Funding Formula, schools receive a base rate per student, in addition to funding per student needing special services–students in grades K-3, high school students and a district’s numbers for low-income and ESL students.
The State Board of Education meeting will focus on criteria for schools to use the funding, to be implemented in January 2014.
Now that the LCFF has been passed, the board will decide “how are the regulations going to define the real-life application of the law,” said Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger, who plans to attend the meeting
Schools have already begun to receive funding under the Local Control Funding Formula, but the funds are frozen until the criteria are developed.
“We have money, but we don’t have an idea yet of how we can actually spend that money,” Winger said.
He said that he is in favor the three options the board proposes.
If the item is passed, schools may “spend more on services,” “provide more or improve services” or “achieve more,” according the the meeting agenda.
This would allow schools to spend funds on programs that are tailored to their student populations, instead of a one-size-fits-all formula.
Schools would also be allowed to use funds awarded for their low-income student population for “schoolwide purposes, for school districts, districtwide purposes, for county offices of education, countywide purposes, or for charter schools (and) charterwide purposes,” according to board documents.
Special interest groups, including representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union plan to attend the meeting, advocating for English language learners and other underserved students, such as low-income and foster youth.
Director of Education Advocacy Brooks Allen said that the ACLU sees “an incredible amount of potential with the Local Control Funding Formula,” because it allocates more money for students with greater needs, something that both the local schools and advocacy groups can agree on.
While the ACLU is not against local control, “We want to make sure that the regulations establish adequate parameters,” Allen said, “(so) that the dollars generated by English language learners actually result in programs to assist those students.”
Specifically, the ACLU is asking the board to require that schools “spend more” and “provide more” instead of an either/or scenario, according to a letter to the board on Nov. 1.
“We think a couple of those options if merged together hold a great deal of promise,” Allen said.
The ACLU letter also takes issue with the fact that “LEAs (Local Education Agencies) would be free to spend their base funding disproportionately on non-needy students and use their supplemental and concentration dollars to provide merely the basic, core services to high need students.”
The meeting agenda item outlined why the state board believes local control would benefit both students and schools: “(It) emphasizes student performance outcomes and avoids compliance-oriented information requests and questions (e.g., checkboxes and explanation of processes).”
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Source: Santa Clarita News