September 23, 2014
United Way of San Diego County in partnership with The California Endowment (TCE) and Mid-City CAN hosted a community forum as part of TCE's 'School Success Express' tour on November 9th at Cherokee Elementary. This event was designed to provide information about the Local Control Funding Formula, California's new school financing formula, and give parents, students, teachers, and community members the opportunity to share their ideas about how the additional funds should be allocated in schools. The tour made 12 stops across the state and all of the community feedback will be documented and summarized for local and state Board of Education officials.
California’s new Local Control Funding Formula approved this summer represents a historic change in how the state’s schools are financed, how schools spend money and how the state defines school success. School districts serving students who are low-income, English learners and foster youth will receive a lot more funding per-student than they did before. Once the new approach is fully implemented in 2020, current projections show K-12 school funding will increase by $18 billion a year across California. For example, San Diego Unified’s annual funding will increase from $786 million in the 2012-13 school year to $1.2 billion once the funding formula is fully rolled out.
An important aspect of the new funding approach is that it gives local districts much more flexibility in deciding how to spend these funds – that’s what the “local control” part of the funding approach refers to. But with more money and more flexibility comes more accountability to the community. School districts will be required to create detailed plans showing how they will improve achievement for underserved students. They are also required to have greater parent and student engagement in making these plans; new parent advisory groups will be formed to review each school district’s plan.
Parents who attended the forum expressed their desire to see more opportunities for students with special needs and that they hoped more funding would go towards providing more resources for teachers to customize their teaching technic for the individual needs of the students. Other parents and community members talked about how gangs, drugs, and violence are a problem in their communities and educating students from a young age about healthy alternatives to such activity is critical to student success. A third grade girl spoke to the crowd about how distracting really hot days are for students and that is it difficult to concentrate and learn in these conditions. This small excerpt from the testimonies given that day clearly illustrates students, families and educators alike have great ideas and are anxious to provide input as the districts develop new funding plans.
Now is the time to get involved in this process. The new “local control” approach won’t work unless parents, students and community leaders are engaged and hold schools accountable for doing right by students. The state Board is in the process of developing the “success plan” template that all school districts will be required to complete to spell out how they are spending the new money and their plans for improved achievement. It’s important for them to hear the voices of parents and youth this fall, before the plan is written.
To learn more about your child's school and the district's plans visit the San Diego County Office of Education and contact your school. If you are interested in the details of the new law visit the California Department of Education to learn more.
If you have any questions, contact Shaina Gross Senior Vice President, Chief Impact Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Eryn Mercer