Commentary

07/07/2014  by Ed Coghlan

Groups weigh in on school local control ahead of key education board meeting


(Photo Credit: John Guenther)

California's legislators may have all gone home for the summer recess, which often causes life to slow down in the state capitol, but Thursday, July 10 certainly won't be a sleepy summer day in Sacramento.

The California State Board of Education will meet that day to determine permanent regulations governing the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for education. The Board adopted emergency regulations in January, and school districts are now through the first year of implementation and have filed Local Control and Accountability Plans with county offices of education.

The goals of the LCFF are to gain flexibility and simplify the distribution of educational funding, and put more decision making in the hands of local school boards.

What should the Board of Education be thinking about this week? We asked three leading organizations:

Vernon M. Billy, CEO & Executive Director of the California School Boards Association

"There are a multiplicity of issues relating to LCFF that are important and deserve the State Board of Education's attention. However, as the Board begins to look at LCFF implementation we will continue to emphasize the need for the Board to ensure that the Governor's principle of "subsidiarity" is embedded throughout their decision-making, and that consideration has to be given to recent legislative actions that will influence each districts’ ability to successfully implement their LCAPs."

Ted Lempert, President of Children Now

“Our top priority for the state level work is to define and clarify the LCFF regulations so that there are systems in place to ensure transparency, equity, and accountability with the goal of closing the gap in student achievement. The work ahead must keep a focus on student success, especially for those most vulnerable. The current draft regulations show great progress by further clarifying how school districts must invest dollars generated by high-needs kids to support those kids. Still, greater transparency in the process is critical. Community members need to see and understand how students are doing and how LCFF dollars are being invested in order to successfully deliver the accountability that LCFF calls for. Districts have the flexibility to innovate and support students and that must be balanced with necessary safeguards provided through increased transparency. We’re committed to working with engaged stakeholders and State Board members to fully analyze and provide tangible recommendations to strengthen the regulations for the benefit of kids.”

James Mayer, CEO, California Forward

"Flexibility is to transparency what freedom is to accountability. That may sound like an answer on a college entrance exam. But those relationships also are among the principled guardrails of governance reform in CA. Flexibility and transparency are not two ends of a continuum or mutually exclusive alternatives.

Under the Local Control Funding Formula, the elected and professional leaders of California school districts must have flexibility in how they spend resources – including the extra dollars allocated to serve disadvantaged students. But this flexibility enables -- and obligates – school officials to communicate clearly how dollars are spent and whether students are succeeding.

Historically, school funding in California was infamously complex and opaque – confounding educators who wanted to help children learn and frustrating parents, community leaders and taxpayers who wanted to know public resources were well spent. The State Board of Education has strived to faithfully implement the Governor’s vision for greater local control. The next consistent step is to ensure transparency to enable local accountability."

Categories: Community Services, Restructuring, School Governance, Local Control Funding Formula, Education, LCFF, Restructuring

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