Mark Coplan: Berkeley Unified School District

Parents in Berkeley discuss priorities for the district's LCAP in 2014

An advocacy organization that analyzed dozens of school districts’ inaugural improvement plans under the state’s new school funding law praised the level of community involvement but criticized the lack of clarity in the finished product.

Under the Local Control Funding Formula, districts get more spending flexibility and autonomy but in return must reach out to parents, students, teachers and the community to help shape the plan and be accountable for the results. Although not uniform across districts, there was “an unprecedented level of engagement among school district leaders, community leaders, parents, teachers, and students,” Education Trust-West, a nonprofit based in Oakland that works to narrow the achievement gap in education, said in a report issued Tuesday. “We also find that district leaders have oriented themselves to the new law. Administrators responsible for instruction and budget are collaborating more than ever before in a real effort to align budgets with academic plans.”

However, Ed Trust-West also said it could not determine whether all the talk led to the law’s intended action – directing sufficient resources to students entitled to extra money under the Local Control Funding Formula. State regulations don’t require the spending details that the public needs to make that judgment, and some of the plans, which ranged from dozens to hundreds of pages, omitted key information, the report said.

“It is difficult at best and impossible at worst to tell whether districts have complied with the law’s requirement to ‘increase or improve services’ for low-income, English learner, and foster youth students,” the report said.

The organization conducted a detailed analysis of 40 plans covering about 20 percent of the state’s nearly 6 million students, and a shorter review of 100 more. It also spoke with 60 leaders who were involved in school engagement efforts across the state.

Requirements of an LCAP

The Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, are three-year district improvement plans, updated annually, that are supposed to detail a district’s basic education expenses. The LCAPs must include measurable goals and list actions districts will take to achieve them along with associated costs, in response to eight priorities specified by law.

As a reminder of what was at stake, a parent from the Los Angeles nonprofit group Families in Schools wore the eight state priorities of the LCAP on her sleeves to a State Board of Education meeting in Sacramento in November 2013.

Credit: Familes in Schools

As a reminder of what was at stake, a representative from the Los Angeles nonprofit group Families in Schools wore the eight state priorities of the LCAP on her sleeves to a State Board of Education meeting in Sacramento in November 2013.

Those priorities include basic services, such as clean facilities and qualified teachers; student achievement, as measured by test scores and other academic and college and career-focused measures; parent engagement; equitable access to courses; implementation of the Common Core and new science standards, and school climate. Districts must describe how they will meet the needs in each area for all students as well as specific subgroups, such as special education students, and the three “high-needs” groups receiving extra funding: foster children, English learners and low-income students.

Carrie Hahnel, Ed Trust-West’s director of research and policy analysis, said that several factors contributed to a disappointing “opaqueness” in the LCAPs that Ed Trust-West examined. Some districts detailed only new or expanded programs and not the full range of educational services, while others, she said, were vague about how they were using the supplemental dollars for high-needs students. Many districts wrote dense plans full of jargon, the report said.

“In all, we are left with LCAPs that offer frustratingly little insight into how (the Local Control Funding Formula) will help accelerate efforts to close our state’s opportunity and achievement gaps,” the report said.

“It is difficult at best and impossible at worst to tell whether districts have complied with the law’s requirement to ‘increase or improve services’ for low-income, English learner, and foster youth students.” – Education Trust-West

Hahnel and Ryan Smith, Ed Trust-West’s executive director, acknowledged that the LCAP encompassed a new and very different process. Many districts had little experience reaching out to parents, and districts faced a compressed schedule under temporary regulations that the State Board of Education adopted six months before the July 1 deadline for passing the LCAP.

“We are conscious of the fact that we are a single year into a decade-long process, with the opportunity to address issues in real time,” Hahnel said. “We did not want to be critical so early.”

For that reason, she said, the report did not identify individual districts whose LCAPs were insufficient or out of compliance. Instead, the report highlighted districts whose LCAPs went beyond the minimum reporting and demonstrated a full commitment to implementing the law.

“We will be encouraging districts to check out the exemplary work and ask them, ‘Why not do what you see these other districts are doing?’” Smith said.

Best practices cited

The report credited the Berkeley Unified School District for clearly spelling out how it planned to use its supplemental money for high-needs students and for dedicating staff to evaluate the effectiveness of the goals and programs the district funded. It cited the San Jose Unified School District for directing money to its school redesign and staffing experiments – one of the few innovations that Ed Trust West found. It pointed to decisions by Oakland, Sacramento, Torrance and Los Angeles to channel more money and authority down to the school level.

Hahnel and Smith agreed that the adoption last month of clearer permanent regulations, a more readable LCAP template, and a second year of experience should lead to some improvement. But the new regulations do not go far enough in demanding more information about district spending, and so the public will continue to have problems tracking the money, they said.

The LCAP does require that districts state how much supplemental funding they will receive and describe how they will use the money to improve or increase services. But a detailed accounting isn’t required, and Ed Trust-West says the LCAP doesn’t require that districts show how they derived the overall dollar figure or cite the sources of funding (federal, base or supplemental funding) for each expenditure. Hahnel said many districts weren’t clear in distinguishing which programs and services were new and which were previously funded.

The report found districts using supplemental dollars to increase salaries and retirement payments for all teachers, “without regard for whether those teachers are focused on the particular needs of low-income, English learner, and foster youth students.” For many districts, however, how they are funding pay increases is unclear, since they aren’t including figures for employee pay in the LCAP even though that is the primary driver of basic educational costs.

The balance between flexibility and accountability

The state board chose not to require the specificity that advocates for low-income students sought after a year of debate. The board’s position was that the LCAP should be an improvement plan, not a budget or accounting document. The board also opposed creating uniform accounting codes for supplemental dollars and base dollars, which would make cross-district comparisons easier.

The adoption of the new LCAP regulations will not end the issue. Legislators tried but failed to pass stricter accounting for LCAP dollars this year, and are expected to renew efforts again. Smith said Ed Trust-West would support that effort. At a panel discussion Tuesday at the California School Boards Association’s annual meeting, Karen Staph Walters, an adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown and executive director of the state board, reiterated Brown’s position that the LCAP process should play out for several years before adopting stricter rules.

Among the findings in the report:

  • Nearly all of the 40 districts mentioned the Common Core standards but few plans fleshed them out.
  • Nearly half of the districts are offering career pathways in fields like business, health and the arts, and 30 percent are providing work-based experiences and internships.
  • “Conspicuously absent” in most LCAPS was a discussion of how to implement the new English language development standards for English learners.

The report makes a number of recommendations:

  • A newly organized state agency, the California Collaborative for Education Excellence, should help districts develop ways to engage parents and develop the LCAP.
  • To increase transparency, the state should require districts to distinguish between base and supplemental spending.
  • The state should require consistency in LCAP approval and enforcement by county offices of education. There were striking differences in the quality of the LCAPs across county lines, Hahnel said.
  • Districts should make LCAPs more readable, with executive summaries, fewer acronyms and “community-friendly materials” that include infographics, slide presentations, videos, and flyers.

Hahnel said that Ed Trust-West also plans to evaluate LCAPs next year. That document must include a first-year update, in which districts are required to state whether expenditures were made and whether students benefited from the programs and other actions that the districts took.

 

 


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  1. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Every year about 160,000 people participate in school site councils across the state. These are mostly, parents, teachers, principals, support staff and other community members who devote their time to understanding and developing school plans and budgets. Yet the LCAP entirely avoided making these councils part of the LCAP, playing no official role and with hardly a mention . With all the expertise that could have been brought to bear through the … Read More

    Every year about 160,000 people participate in school site councils across the state. These are mostly, parents, teachers, principals, support staff and other community members who devote their time to understanding and developing school plans and budgets. Yet the LCAP entirely avoided making these councils part of the LCAP, playing no official role and with hardly a mention . With all the expertise that could have been brought to bear through the participation of these most engaged school leaders I have to wonder why were they passed over. With over 3/4 of categorical programs dissolved, the school site council, instead of becoming an anachronism, could have been a strong voice in the LCAP process for the community of school, The fact is that parents and teachers are less interested in what happens at the district level than the school level.Why did the Department of Education choose to keep the long experience of the school site council sidelined from the LCAP process?

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

      But what if this led to a lot of troublemakers causing a lot of bickering and negative energy? It could lead to positive leadership, as you say, but there are times when it would be impossible to make everyone happy. There were huge arguments at Alamo and a lot of bad feelings between PTSA, certain members of the school site council, the Principal. It wasn't the panacea you suggest here. It … Read More

      But what if this led to a lot of troublemakers causing a lot of bickering and negative energy? It could lead to positive leadership, as you say, but there are times when it would be impossible to make everyone happy. There were huge arguments at Alamo and a lot of bad feelings between PTSA, certain members of the school site council, the Principal. It wasn’t the panacea you suggest here. It might have caused more problems than it actually solved.

    • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

      Don: Gov. Brown and the State Board have made clear from the start that they wanted money under the Local Control Funding Formula to go through the district, not individual schools, although some districts chosen to steer portions of the supplemental money to school sites to be used at their discretion – a good idea. The rationale is that schools boards and superintendents must make comprehensive policy and resource decisions applying districtwide. We'll see how … Read More

      Don: Gov. Brown and the State Board have made clear from the start that they wanted money under the Local Control Funding Formula to go through the district, not individual schools, although some districts chosen to steer portions of the supplemental money to school sites to be used at their discretion – a good idea. The rationale is that schools boards and superintendents must make comprehensive policy and resource decisions applying districtwide. We’ll see how that plays out. However, the new regulations that the State Board adopted last month state that the LCAP “should be shared with, and input requested from, school site councils” and the LCAPs should be aligned with the plans that school sites create through the Single Plan for Student Achievement process. This clearly was not done in some districts this year. We’ll see if there is improvement in 2015.

      • FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

        John, in San Francisco almost all of the extra money goes to schools which are labeled as Superintendent Zone schools, 14 of them, despite the fact that there are many poor, disabled, immigrant and disadvantaged kids at the good schools. Alamo is 29% free and reduced lunch, lower than average but still high. Presidio Middle is in the mid '30s. Lowell High School is 41% free and reduced lunch and outperforms 40k … Read More

        John, in San Francisco almost all of the extra money goes to schools which are labeled as Superintendent Zone schools, 14 of them, despite the fact that there are many poor, disabled, immigrant and disadvantaged kids at the good schools. Alamo is 29% free and reduced lunch, lower than average but still high. Presidio Middle is in the mid ’30s. Lowell High School is 41% free and reduced lunch and outperforms 40k a year private schools with 5% or so at that level of poverty, because Asians and some other immigrant groups here defy what is the common expectation of white liberals, that poor kids nearly always do poorly in school and rich kids almost always do at least fairly well. They don’t like to consider effort and parenting, and will consistently just ignore the example of such groups because it doesn’t fit the paradigm of blame poverty, not that there isn’t some truth to said paradigm, but they ignore the holes.

        Don has personally documented the funding issues for several years. He has shown how all this money has gone to a few schools and hasn’t resulted in any noticeable improvement. It has deprived many schools of useful services and shown no test score improvement. This may happen statewide. Don has the details.

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        John, thanks for your reply. For the sake of brevity I did not get into the history of Brown's decision to have one district LCAP rather than numerous school site LCAPs. That decision is understandable for the purposes of expediency, though my decision would have been the opposite one if I were the Gov. Ultimately schools know best how to meet the needs of their students and ,therefore, schools should decide how to allocate … Read More

        John, thanks for your reply. For the sake of brevity I did not get into the history of Brown’s decision to have one district LCAP rather than numerous school site LCAPs. That decision is understandable for the purposes of expediency, though my decision would have been the opposite one if I were the Gov. Ultimately schools know best how to meet the needs of their students and ,therefore, schools should decide how to allocate resources within a district framework that meets the requirements of law and the policies of the LEA. OTOH the example of boards rubber stamping SPSAs is not one to emulate, though I’m afraid that county boards are doing just that.. Every year school boards have to pass the SPSA of each individual school site that was “developed and recommended” by law by the SSC . How many school board members or their district administrators actually read these plans before they pass them? In my experience in San Francisco I would say none, even though they have to adopt or reject these plans also by law. Obviously, that is not the way we want the LCAPs to work. That said, there was opportunity for SSCs to play a significant role in the LCAP in some shape or form had the planners wanted that to be. Off the top of my head I could imagine a role in which the LCAP is part of the SPSA and that SSCs could refuse to recommend an SPSA if they feel an imposed district mandate is not workable or ideal in which case the district and school would have to negotiate a solution. Or instead of having a district appointed parent advisory committee recommend the LCAP to the board, site councils as a group could have a district meeting to do the same, giving their input. Clearly, it would be a more complex situation, but I believe it would bring the real decisions down to the school level where I also believe they belong (up to a degree).

        The point is that we already have a long history of these councils and rather allowing them to be a part of the structural process of the LCAP they were virtually ignored in the law ( which is everything). It is my contention that Brown and the CDE did not want parents to have any real power in the process despite the rhetoric to the contrary, though no one would admit it and I can’t prove it. But overlooking these SSCs is telling. And there’s also the question of what purpose they now serve in an era beyond most categorical funding.

        • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

          Good points, Don, though school sites and the active parents who run them sometimes have their own pet programs and preferences that survive long after they’ve proven their value. It’s sometimes harder for leaders to say no at the school site level.

          To you and all of our commenters, thanks for your contributions in 2014 and Happy New Year.

  2. Lea Hubbard 1 year ago1 year ago

    I have studied some "college and career ready" programs and am interested in its integration into LCAP. I noticed that funding and "pupil outcomes" "encourage" this kind of study. I am wondering what assessments/evaluations are going to be used by the districts to assess "the proportion of students who are college and career ready”? Has the state funded any research to examine this. It's listed as part of the accountability measure in one of … Read More

    I have studied some “college and career ready” programs and am interested in its integration into LCAP. I noticed that funding and “pupil outcomes” “encourage” this kind of study. I am wondering what assessments/evaluations are going to be used by the districts to assess “the proportion of students who are college and career ready”? Has the state funded any research to examine this. It’s listed as part of the accountability measure in one of the priority areas.
    Thanks for the helpful information.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

      Lee: My colleague, Michelle Maitre, wrote about the challenges of coming with career readiness measures for the LCAP and state accountability purposes. You can read her piece here. The Public Schools Accountability Act Advisory Committee will continue to explore potential measures this year and make recommendations to the State Board of Education. Michelle’s piece includes this link to the literature on the topic.

  3. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Anne, you said - "The local district staff who formerly were monitoring categorical programs are now working diligently on preparing literate, jargon-free LCAPs and conducting community wide meetings." How do you know that the staffs of 1000 school districts are doing this? I can't even figure out what the staff in my own district is doing let alone 999 other ones. The LCAP it prepared without much in the way of public input and is … Read More

    Anne, you said – “The local district staff who formerly were monitoring categorical programs are now working diligently on preparing literate, jargon-free LCAPs and conducting community wide meetings.”

    How do you know that the staffs of 1000 school districts are doing this? I can’t even figure out what the staff in my own district is doing let alone 999 other ones. The LCAP it prepared without much in the way of public input and is chalk full of jargon with no information about how money is actually spent at schools. It’s all a bunch of nonsense as far as I’m concerned. Any business with a leger of this sort would lose the support of its backers and its managers would probably end up in jail. Really, we have to be absolute fools to let the Brown, Torlakson and the CDE pull the wool over our eyes with this phoney-baloney LCrAP.

  4. Anne 1 year ago1 year ago

    The local district staff who formerly were monitoring categorical programs are now working diligently on preparing literate, jargon-free LCAPs and conducting community wide meetings. The effort to have a substantial overlay of rules and regulations about spending LCAP funds assumes that local school districts, boards and staff, will turn their backs on the the spirit of the new California funding scheme - to improve achievement for all California students. Providing focused support for … Read More

    The local district staff who formerly were monitoring categorical programs are now working diligently on preparing literate, jargon-free LCAPs and conducting community wide meetings.
    The effort to have a substantial overlay of rules and regulations about spending LCAP funds assumes that local school districts, boards and staff, will turn their backs on the the spirit of the new California funding scheme – to improve achievement for all California students. Providing focused support for those students requiring it will give those students a fighting chance to improve. Steps from CDE, SBE and the Legislature to improve transparency will be critical for all to “follow the money.” The official public funding documents from Sacramento should make clear the district funding per pupil in the grade level groups as well as the enrollment numbers for these groups. The addition funding for Class Size Reduction and Career Technical Education each needs a line if its own. The enrollment numbers generating supplemental and concentration funding for the LCAP should also be public – duplicated and unduplicated.
    The proposals in the LCAP should be easily trackable in their implementation: added staff hours, focused programs at appropriate schools and new hires. In this day and age of results driven education, the question is only “are students more successful than before the LCAP.” Today, we measure outputs rather than inputs.
    Accountability is grounded only in whether or not more students achieve at higher levels than before LCAP. The community holds the local Board of Education accountable for student success. If an LCAP approved by a local board is not being implemented or the community is not seeing increasing success for its students the Board is accountable. Regular elections provide an opportunity to have a board which can show improved results.

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Apologies Anne, but I must respond to this. The LCAPs I have seen are not jargon-free. They are, however, information-free. This is admittedly as much the SBE's fault as anyone in any district's. True, district staff is working at engagement, but most advocates already have a forum so I expect a large part of that will be re-using existing relationships. Its not whether districts will turn their backs on the spirit of the law, its whether … Read More

      Apologies Anne, but I must respond to this.

      The LCAPs I have seen are not jargon-free. They are, however, information-free. This is admittedly as much the SBE’s fault as anyone in any district’s. True, district staff is working at engagement, but most advocates already have a forum so I expect a large part of that will be re-using existing relationships.

      Its not whether districts will turn their backs on the spirit of the law, its whether they have the option/freedom of not doing that. Most districts are already operating under structural deficits and some wont even be able to cover COLAs with what LCFF is providing so far. They are also understaffed and these existing pressures will drive things in the wrong direction. That they cannot deliver wont have to be a function of maliciousness on their part.

      The SBE has rejected attempts to provide additional funding information in LCAPs as well as rejected requests to assign more specific accounting codes that would have made it easier to track funds. LCFF is truly local in that all failures should be directed at local BoEs, instead of the state, the legislator, the CDE or SBE.

      There is nothing inherent in LCFF nor LCAP that will make it easier to track implementation. In fact, making those target goals locally-defined will do just the opposite.

      As mentioned elsewhere, undups are likely getting fewer funds now than they did before LCFF began. Although that may change in a year or two, I dont see how we can expect students to all of a sudden be more successful now than before, especially given that now we are changing how we define success.

      And finally, using board elections as the only lever into the goal of improved academic results is simply unacceptable. Not only has the voting rights act reduced the number of board members any voter has the ability to vote on, but there is not enough visibility into what happens to know what role any particular BoE member has on the the implementation or lack thereof of anything specified in the LCAP, or on any other program success failure for that matter. That assuming any significant portion of the community even knows who their local BoE members are..

      I do stand with you in stating that districts are not always the bad guys here, but my normal eternal optimism does not extend to that implying that we can sit back and wait for the experts to get on with it.

      Note, the state has clearly told us if we dont like what they do we have to sue them. That doesnt mean we hate them, it just means that is our expected role (just as defending against lawsuits in any conceivable manner appears to be theirs). Similarly, if we think local districts are not doing what they can, or in a way we dont agree with, we have a responsibility to say so. That doesnt mean we hate them. It just means its our expected role.

      IMHO anyway. 🙂

  5. Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

    The combination of words "local control" and "accountability plan" yield an oxymoron . . . . no credible accountability plan can totally be under the control of the agency being held accountable. Oversight from a county office won't cut it . . . . The current "promise" rhetoric around LCAP makes one pause to reflect on the rather universally recommended strategy for how to implement a standards-based system for K-12 education. That strategy involves implementing … Read More

    The combination of words “local control” and “accountability plan” yield an oxymoron . . . . no credible accountability plan can totally be under the control of the agency being held accountable. Oversight from a county office won’t cut it . . . .

    The current “promise” rhetoric around LCAP makes one pause to reflect on the rather universally recommended strategy for how to implement a standards-based system for K-12 education. That strategy involves implementing instruction first at the local district level, followed by statewide assessments, and lastly accountability systems. It now appears that CA has implemented accountability first via LCAPs in 2014, to be followed by state assessments via Smarter Balanced in 2015, followed by instruction which won’t be fully implemented until 2017 or 2018 by most accounts. This makes one wonder where CA will stand with its common core standards-based system come 2020 or 2025 . . . . .

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      Yes, Doug, an honor system might work reasonably well for a like-minded group of young boys scouts, but I don’t think it is any way to maintain public trust in the $60B plus institution of K12 public education in California. Did the Governor and the Legislature know all along that they were kicking the can into the court system? Maybe a court-mandated fix is just the political cover they’re looking for.

  6. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    John, as patience is a virtue, I take your advice seriously. What worries me is that the first year will become the model for the subsequent years and patience will go unrewarded. To that end, it is better to be proactive in voicing concerns as the project proceeds always keeping patience in mind. I hope that doesn't sound too much like doubletalk. Different people bring different concerns to the table and that … Read More

    John, as patience is a virtue, I take your advice seriously. What worries me is that the first year will become the model for the subsequent years and patience will go unrewarded. To that end, it is better to be proactive in voicing concerns as the project proceeds always keeping patience in mind. I hope that doesn’t sound too much like doubletalk.

    Different people bring different concerns to the table and that is how it should be in a vigorous public debate. Navigio, for example, is most concerned with S and C funding loss to the base grant in lieu of any effective oversight to enforce the letter and spirit of LCFF and its targeted students. I suspect this is a statewide concern but perhaps most notably experienced in LAUSD. I can only take him at his word that this is true and know nothing of how that played out under Deasy and the Board.

    In SFUSD, I believe it is the opposite – encroachment by S and C grants on the base grant. While SFUSD already uses a Weighted Student Formula in its school budgeting process, it has now added the SC grants on top of that student differential, though that differential is probably less in dollar than SC funding. This is doubling down on the targeted students and effectively supplanting the base grant which would be higher if SFUSD’s targeted students didn’t get both a higher per pupil allocation of WSF funding and SC grants. The district prides itself on having implemented WSF prior to the state version of it in the form of LCFF. This is not a reason though to implement two weighted student formulas simultaneously.

    I raised this issue at an LCFF meeting and I was treated as though I had just handed national secrets to the enemy. No matter how good a community engagement show the district puts on, I know from long experience in this district that anyone who is vocally and consistently against SFUSD central office policy is met with a concerted and orchestrated wall of resistance. And as parent complainant knows, a governmental agency is an insular fiefdom that does not take kindly to criticism and will shield itself and its family like an angry lioness. Once the bureaucracy is onto you every door is slammed in your face in the hope that the parent will give up in frustration. I don’t think LCFF will change the leadership culture in education that treats the public as a bunch of oakeys who don’t know the first thing about education.

  7. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Thank you for writing this article, John. LCFF is a reflection of the California Department of Education's desire to get out of the business of oversight and enforcement, though that doesn't mean it was ever effectively in that business. The only real lever the State holds over districts is in the purse and over the years the number of times that the CDE withheld funding from any districts (that was not related … Read More

    Thank you for writing this article, John.

    LCFF is a reflection of the California Department of Education’s desire to get out of the business of oversight and enforcement, though that doesn’t mean it was ever effectively in that business. The only real lever the State holds over districts is in the purse and over the years the number of times that the CDE withheld funding from any districts (that was not related to economic conditions) was almost nil. Punishing students for district mismanagement or malfeasance was not an option for the CDE. This begs the question: if the state could not enforce upon the districts its education law perhaps it should get out of the business of oversight and enforcement. Hence, the new LCFF law was created.

    IMHO, the base, supplemental and concentration grant structure of the law was not the impetus behind the Local Control Funding Formula, though it was sold this way to the public as a progressive social justice law. The revision was designed to deconstruct the vast majority of byzantine and problematic categorical programs and move them as two block grant to the districts and the revenue limit base grant completed the exit of the state from district oversight. Thereby the CDE washed its hands of numerous problems, hence the current reluctance to accept any fiduciary responsibility to provide oversight in opting not to strengthen the law gives credence to this viewpoint.

    Unfortunately, the former lack of state oversight is being encouraged at the local level. As referenced in the article the State is not moving to make the LCAP more financially accountable in meaningful ways – in ways that allow the public to “follow the money”. It wants to wait for years to allow the process to play out. Why would they wait for years when it is clear now that the LCAP is a weak document that doesn’t provide the public with clear information? And if a public accountability plan can side step… well, public accountability, what does that say about the LCAP? At present a district can pass its annual independent financial audit and submit a consolidated application without issue while substantially violating the terms of the LCFF law not because of the lack of strict parameters for the use of LCFF dollars but because there’s no point in legislating more stringent requirements in the LCAP if no mechanism is put in place for oversight and enforcement whether that oversight is state or local.

    This leads to the inevitable query: is state financing of LEAs incompatible with local control? Who exactly is verifying compliance with education code under LCFF? Supposed that is the county. But by and large counties rubber-stamped the district LCAPS.

    We have laws in place to provide for equal educational opportunity. Given the abrogation of oversight and enforcement by the CDE and the vagueness of the new law it appears that it is up to local parties to test the law in court, not as a last resort but as the only resort.

    Replies

    • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

      Regarding the 'Byzantine and problematic categorical programs' I tend to agree, however, I am still waiting for the first district to announce the administrative/clerical layoffs due to no longer needing to navigate those tangled webs, and reallocate those resources to something productive... ..and I'm still waiting... ..I'll try holding my breath...... Read More

      Regarding the ‘Byzantine and problematic categorical programs’ I tend to agree, however, I am still waiting for the first district to announce the administrative/clerical layoffs due to no longer needing to navigate those tangled webs, and reallocate those resources to something productive…
      ..and I’m still waiting…
      ..I’ll try holding my breath……

      • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

        Most of the categorical cargo was at the state level bureaucracy and in the halls of the legislature. Each program often worth tens, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars had their own lobbies and ate away at the resources of the CDE. At the local level, categorical program staff continue to do similar work under different auspices, depending upon the district.

      • tom 1 year ago1 year ago

        In regards to layoffs/downsizing/reducing the cost and size of government at District level, Navigio, many of us are in favor of doing the same at the State level for the bloated CDE and the DSA and shifting the dollars to student needs. As Don points out, the CDE has not been effective in some areas, so with the shift to local oversight, one could argue that all those employees at CDE are not needed. … Read More

        In regards to layoffs/downsizing/reducing the cost and size of government at District level, Navigio, many of us are in favor of doing the same at the State level for the bloated CDE and the DSA and shifting the dollars to student needs. As Don points out, the CDE has not been effective in some areas, so with the shift to local oversight, one could argue that all those employees at CDE are not needed. What politician has the courage to point that out and suggest this? Won’t be Brown or Torlakson, for obvious political reasons, in my estimation.

      • el 1 year ago1 year ago

        To be fair, navigio, if the template and the funding and the rules and the like would stay the same for more than 6 weeks at a time, there might be less administrative overhead.

        It’s not going to even have the potential to be less work until the transition is complete and the process is stable.

    • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

      Don: Several lawsuits, including the latest one, Cruz v State of California, brought by the ACLU and others, (stay tuned for an update on that, coming soon, in EdSource Today), over lost learning time in dysfunctional schools, will in part determine who much the state can get out of the oversight business. But there is no question that enforcement under the Local Control Funding Formula has shifted to parents and the community as overseers and … Read More

      Don: Several lawsuits, including the latest one, Cruz v State of California, brought by the ACLU and others,
      (stay tuned for an update on that, coming soon, in EdSource Today), over lost learning time in dysfunctional schools, will in part determine who much the state can get out of the oversight business. But there is no question that enforcement under the Local Control Funding Formula has shifted to parents and the community as overseers and participants in the LCAP process, county offices of education, which must approve the LCAPs, and a new agency, the California Collaborative For Education Excellence, a five-person commission that will meet for the first time next month. It will take its guidance from the “rubrics” that the State Board of Education must create by October 2015. The rubrics will spell out measures of progress that all districts and schools must make – perhaps a short list that must be included in districts’ LCAPs. It’s early yet in the process, which WestEd is running, to project what the rubrics will look like and the enforcement mechanisms that will result. But you can bet there will be a vigorous debate over what the metrics are and the consequences for schools that don’t make progress — whether on Smarter Balanced tests and locally designed assessments, grad rates, access to courses, etc.

      I would encourage patience (and vigilance). It is premature to judge LCFF and the LCAP process by the first year.

      • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

        First off, apologies for commenting so much lately. Too much good stuff here lately. Good problem to have I guess. LCAPs and LCFF are something I have strong opinions on and I'll use your comment as a jumping off point. :-) I believe LCFF can (and should) be judged now on today's terms (as opposed to now on what it will eventually become) because what it has done is apparently essentially taken most money for disadvantaged … Read More

        First off, apologies for commenting so much lately. Too much good stuff here lately. Good problem to have I guess.

        LCAPs and LCFF are something I have strong opinions on and I’ll use your comment as a jumping off point. 🙂

        I believe LCFF can (and should) be judged now on today’s terms (as opposed to now on what it will eventually become) because what it has done is apparently essentially taken most money for disadvantaged students away from them in the first year, and arguably also in this second year.

        Had we sold LCFF as a ‘sorry kids, you will just have to wait 5 or 8 years till we can do something for you’, then fine. But that’s not how it was sold. As a result, advocates for those students have every right to know what is happening now so they can fight in the name of the spirit of the law, and pit that spirit against the rest of the realities that local districts have. Given rising encroachments and underfunding of already insufficient base grants, this will not be easy, but that is the only way that ‘local control’ can work. If the state decides it doesn’t want to require such a discussion then local advocates need to know that so they can push for such a discussion instead.

        Similarly, the LCAP is just a document. There is no reason to have patience for a document to be created (other than if insufficient admin/clerical staffing levels prohibit that. If they already do, our ‘patience’ will have to approach infinity). Everything the LCAP is asking us to do should already have been being done in the past. In fact, if anything, the new process has reduced local burden from the document/clerical perspective (engagement may have changed, but only in theory).
        As the article intimates, this ties to academic plan, technology plan, english learner plan, district budget, and probably many other documents most people don’t know exist. All things that are already done, or are supposed to be.

        Furthermore, I think the SBE is dead wrong on trying to view LCAP as something other than a budget or accounting document. It’s true it’s an accountability/improvement plan, but words are meaningless without implementation, ie funds with which to implement. In fact, one of the primary purposes of the LCAP is to enable visibility over funding directives. How can an LCAP do that with no real connection to the budget? As someone once said, ‘don’t tell me what your priorities are, show me your budget and I’ll know what your priorities are.’

        One note about ELD. The latest regulations added ELD to the LCAP template. We should see those in any revisions I’d hope. However, it would be nice to see a story on the status of implementation at the state level. It’s not clear whether a framework has been created/approved yet. Obviously that would impact local implementation.

        • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

          Excellent points, all, Navigio. The CA Collaborative for Education Excellence seems to be taking its sweet time. It is no surprise that they are in no hurry to function, for all intents and purposes, as a sort of free dispenser of district therapy. Every district and charter school dutifully pulled off an LCAP show and some very creative writers made some beautiful music, yet this oversight body has yet to meet. That doesn't seem to … Read More

          Excellent points, all, Navigio.

          The CA Collaborative for Education Excellence seems to be taking its sweet time. It is no surprise that they are in no hurry to function, for all intents and purposes, as a sort of free dispenser of district therapy. Every district and charter school dutifully pulled off an LCAP show and some very creative writers made some beautiful music, yet this oversight body has yet to meet. That doesn’t seem to engender a great deal of confidence in its mission to support the districts unless the Collaborative is functioning on a spiritual plane – like the Pope telling Catholic not to use birth control. OK, it is not a compliance agency and it is not there to enforce so the kind of relief you seek for targeted students may not be part of it prerogative. The concept behind it is purely collaborative in nature, to support and assist, and while I can appreciate the tone that it is taking, when enforcement is necessary apparently only the courts can be charged with that duty now that the CDE assured us that we are locally controlled.

          You mentioned that targeted students are getting the short end of the stick. As John pointed out, courts will decide. Perhaps I’m being daft, but why do the courts have to sort out the meaning of the law from the very start?

          I actively participated in the LCAP show here in SFUSD. I could comment on that stilted process, but instead I’ll jump forward to the here and now, post LCAP creation. What if anything is different now compared to pre-LCAP days? Nothing of any substance as far as I can tell. We have an LCAP process and resultant document that few people ever heard of and fewer participated in. And it’s business as usual. Nothing changed at the schools. After all the histrionics about a new era in public education students and staff go about their business like they always did, for better or worse. Gotta go.

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