03/03/2014 by Matthew Grant Anson
LCFF tour brings clarity to new school funding law
(photo credit: Matthew Grant Anson)
California Forward is teaming with the California School Boards Association in a statewide tour to help school board members effectively implement the Local Control Funding Formula and develop Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP). CA Fwd’s governance reform experience combined with the technical expertise of CSBA helps school board officials better prepare for the changes ahead. Three meetings down -- Chico, Sacramento, and Los Angeles -- and it’s clear that this is a project paying dividends.
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is the ambitious reform law that dramatically alters the way money is given to school districts. It gives districts much more control over how they can spend their dollars, and provides additional funding for low income, foster, or English learning students. It’s a first-of-its-kind funding reform in the U.S., and its success or failure depends on local school officials getting it right over the next eight years. That’s why CA Fwd and CSBA are coming together to spread the word and early best practices.
“The Local Control Funding Formula reflects the Governor’s view that local decisions are more likely to benefit students than a one-size-fits all approach,” said California Forward’s Susan Lovenburg. “The bottom line for all of us is a better educated population.”
CSBA’s presenters minced no words describing the reasoning behind LCFF and the granular elements of the law. Toward the top of the list was the importance of parent engagement and transparency.
“You’ve got to track the dough,” said CSBA’s Teri Burns, in regard to taking note of where every dollar goes. “There are expectations with the LCFF money that you’ll have a comprehensive accountability plan where you’ve sufficiently engaged your community.”
Districts are now entering a final stretch for the first part of LCFF’s rollout. By June 30th districts must have consulted parent groups, drafted and circulated a Local Control Accountability Plan, received and responded to public input, aligned the budget and added revisions, and adopted both a budget and the LCAP. The LCFF forums offer valuable opportunity for school board members to ask technical questions of CSBA staff and share their own experiences with other districts as they work through this process.
“California School Boards Association and California Forward joined forces because we focus on education and government while [California Forward] brings expertise in public engagement for creating government reform,” said Jesus Holguin, president-elect of the CSBA and board member in the Moreno Valley Unified School District in Riverside County. “The LCFF is a move away from funding based on equality toward funding designed to be equitable and based on needs.”
The rest of the country will be watching closely as California’s school districts take school funding reform from theoretical concept to on-the-ground reality.