The San Diego Unified School District unanimously approved its spending and accountability plan Tuesday despite renewed calls from some community and parent advocates for more details about how the school system will spend state funds.
California’s new funding formula requires each district to draft a Local Control and Accountability Plan to show how it will use state dollars to improve student achievement. Those plans, which must be developed in collaboration with the community and staff, also must identify how services will be enhanced or improved for high-needs students – low-income pupils, English learners and foster youth. All plans must be adopted by July 1.
Ever since San Diego Unified released the first draft of its accountability plan in May, local advocates and parents have pressed district officials for more numbers – expenditures for specific strategies and data to measure the district’s progress. And Tuesday night, speakers continued to ask district officials to provide more budget information and fill in missing data.
After urging the school board members not to delay identifying quality-teaching metrics in 2014-2015, Amy Redding, chair of the District Advisory Council for Compensatory Education Program, said: “When we talk about quality education, we must always focus on the right here and the right now as much as we focus on the future. If we don’t, we will leave thousands of San Diego Unified students behind every year without receiving the level of education that they deserve and every student deserves a quality classroom teacher every year.”
But San Diego Unified School Board member John Lee Evans cautioned that while the district doesn’t want to wait until 2015-2016 to have quality teaching, “we don’t want to come up with metrics that are not meaningful and can’t be carefully measured.” Evans added that while requests to “delineate every dollar spent” aren’t always reasonable, the district and board will be held accountable for achieving the plan’s goals.
“This is our plan for improving education in the district,” Evans said. Later, he added: “All the other plans I’ve seen before have gone on a shelf and kind of get forgotten. At the end of the [school] year we can show where we succeeded and show where we fell short.”
Meanwhile, there was plenty of praise for the three-year plan’s transformation from a bare-bones document with few metrics and costs to the interactive plan complete with executive summary and user-friendly guide that the public reviewed this week. Moises Aguirre, San Diego Unified’s executive director of district relations, said more data is forthcoming.
“Ultimately, it’s not meant to be a static plan,” Aguirre stressed. “The document itself says it’s a working draft because that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. It will continue to change as we go through the process.”
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