West Contra Costa Unified School District serves around 30,000 students in Kensington, El Cerrito, Richmond, San Pablo, Hercules and Pinole.
In January and February, the district hosted six public meetings about the Local Control Funding Formula. According to school board member Madeline Kronenberg, who attended five out of the six sessions, the meetings each drew around 100 people.
These meetings were in addition to an inaugural meeting held last October at De Jean Middle School as part of the Student Success Express 12-city bus tour organized by The California Endowment. The meeting was attended by administrators, teachers, community advocates and parents. Transportation was provided to parents who needed it, along with sandwiches and other refreshments.
A strategic plan completed in the summer of 2013 has provided a framework for the discussions about the Local Control Funding Formula in the district.
The last of the meetings was held at Hercules High School between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on February 6. Superintendent Bruce Harter made a PowerPoint presentation about the Local Control and Accountability Plan of the districts financial status, and what it stands to gain under the Local Control Funding Formula (some $6.2 million this year).
(See Superintendent Bruce Harter’s presentation, Aligning LCFF/LCAP with the Strategic Plan.)
Participants then broke in to smaller groups, and drew up long list of priorities for the new funds (which can be found online on the district’s website). The dozens of proposals ranged from extending the school day and smaller class sizes to mentorship programs and having school psychologists on based on school sites.
In January, the Board of Education approved an extremely detailed plan to form a District Parent Committee to provide input into the Local Control Accountability Plan. The appointments to the committee were approved by the board in March. It is made of 13 parents nominated by principals (two from each of the districts six “families” of schools, and one representing “alternative education), 11 members nominated by school employee organizations, district committees and community organizations, and 9 student members nominated by principals. Members will serve two year terms, except that half of the first group appointed will serve three year terms to assure continuity. (See Item C.23 on the board’s March 12, 2014 agenda.)
The district will be a major beneficiary of the new funding formula, as more than half of its students fall into one of the three target groups — low income, English learners or foster children.
The funds that it will only partially restore the funds it has lost during the Great Recession, and comes less than two years after the school district emerged from 21 years of state receivership. Despite an extra $6.4 million from the first year of the LCFF, the district’s 2013-14 budget was $29 million less than it was in 2007-08. School district officials expect an extra $109 million compared to the 2007-08 general fund when the LCFF is fully funded in 2021-22.