The Local Control Funding Formula has been an issue California Forward has been aggressive about covering because of the sweeping, necessary changes the law brings to funding our state’s schools. Less touched upon, by us and other media in the state, is what it’s like for a district to have to implement not just LCFF, but Common Core at the same time. While LCFF significantly alters the way schools are funded, Common Core significantly alters the type of instruction students across the nation will be receiving. They are major shifts happening at the same time, which is why we’ve reached out to school board members across the state for an update on implementation in their respective districts, as well as some analysis of the unique challenges facing each district they represent.
In this interview, CAFwd spoke to Alma-Delia Renteria, a teacher and school board member at the Lynwood Unified School District for her perspective on the ongoing changes.
What’s the process been like implementing LCFF in your district?
Given that the LCFF is still relatively new, our district has focused on outreaching to all LUSD stakeholders, to ensure that once we know the exact dollar amount coming into our district (which is unknown until we get attendance numbers in April), we can allocate the funds appropriately.
How do you feel about the emergency regulations finalized last month?
I am very excited for what the future has in store. As a teacher serving a predominately low-income community, I have experienced first hand the need for more funds to support the lack of resources; as a board member serving my former schools, it excites me to know that new money will be coming in to finally support the gaps that have been long ignored given that they did not fit into any of the “categoricals.”
Are the LCAP deadlines and other benchmarks reachable or should they be pushed back?
I believe that with a strong team, the LCAP deadlines and benchmarks are reachable. While it is great that this new formula gives us (the school board) an opportunity to work with funds on a “by-need” basis, it is important that there exists deadlines and benchmarks as a form of making districts accountable; a deliverable is always necessary to ensure that there is progress being made.
How has your district gone about shifting to Common Core?
Over the past few years, professional development has slowly shifted in order to help teachers help students build a deeper and more meaningful understanding of each content area; furthermore, as a district, the expectations have also increased. Thus, without calling it Common Core, we have been transitioning for some time now. Still, Lynwood Unified has been allocated $3 million by the state to make the complete transition to the CCSS successfully. The District is using this funding for professional development, to update computer labs at every school and to purchase new instructional materials.The District has been making presentations on the CCSS to various stakeholder groups to promote understanding on the new instructional standards.
Do you think having to do LCFF and Common Core implementation at the same time makes things difficult?
In a way, these two compliment each other as they are both guiding our academics in the right direction. It is difficult to transition to Common Core without having access to more resources; the LCFF provides us the opportunity to allocate funds to bring in those needed resources so that we can offer our students the quality education that they deserve.
How do you differentiate between the two when doing outreach to parents?
The district has been very strategic in terms of communication. Lynwood Unified has hosted a series of meetings to explain to parents what instruction will look like in their child’s classroom and demonstrate new computer labs. Separately, they have also developed a LCFF committee, consisting of parents, students, administrators and staff, to ensure that all LUSD stakeholders can contribute to the discussion about various spending needs and interests. While the two can overlap at times, there has been a clear and purposeful differentiation, as it is important for our parents to understand the two.
Has LCFF’s mandated parent outreach changed the way your district communicates with parents?
As a board member, I truly do see the difference. While the district has always worked hard to develop open communication with parents, the LCFF has offered us an opportunity to do more, providing a great opportunity for parents to be involved and truly have a voice in their children’s education.