Historic funding change includes district accountability plans

Along with the historic shift in school funding contained in the new Local Control Funding Formula comes significant opportunities for educators and their unions.

Under the LCFF, the governing boards of districts, county offices of education and charter schools, known as Local Education Agencies, are required to adopt a Local Control Accountability Plan every three years starting in July 2014.

The LCAP must describe two key elements: 1) the annual goals of the LEA and specific goals for numerically significant groups of students; and 2) specific actions the LEA will take in each of the three years to achieve its goals.

During plan development, the law requires that LEAs consult with teachers, principals, school personnel, pupils, and local bargaining agents. Local unions have a right to consult during the review and adoption of the LCAP.

Not only do local unions have a place at the table, but they must monitor LCAP development. In any inconsistency between the LCAP and the collective bargaining agreement, the contract prevails. Also, no actions described in the LCAP may be implemented if they are inconsistent with the contract until they are negotiated with the bargaining agents.

In addition to the formal consultation role in plan development, the new accountability program presents an opportunity for unions to work with parents and community groups to ensure that the program and goals set out by the LCAP meet the needs of the larger community.

Some local unions are already taking the lead in LCAP development. At recent CFT trainings about the new state programs, local unions shared outreach now underway:
• The Berkeley Federation of Teachers is reaching out to subgroups of the union’s membership such as middle school counselors;
• The Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers and the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers are organizing community-labor forums on LCFF and LCAP;
• The Jefferson Elementary Federation (Parent Training Article) of Teachers is surveying parents and family members at the union’s parent education trainings; and
• United Educators of San Francisco, working with Close the Gap, a coalition of educational justice organizations in San Francisco, held a community briefing on December 3.

The governing boards of LEAs must also reach out to the community. They are required to hold at least one public hearing to solicit comments regarding expenditures and actions proposed in the LCAP. The board must also provide the plan to the parent advisory committee and the English learner parent advisory committee for comment. The superintendent must respond in writing.

In subsequent years, the LCAPs must be updated on or before July 1 and adjusted each September to reflect the final provisions of the state budget. Starting in the 2014-15 fiscal year, LEAs cannot adopt a budget before the board adopts its LCAP.

CFT encourages local unions get involved in LCAP development early and help lead the way toward meeting the needs of students, educators and communities throughout California.

— By CFT Staff

The politics in play around local control

On November 7, the State Board of Education accepted public comment on its charge of developing regulations for the new Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control Accountability Plan.

One goal of the LCFF was to eliminate state regulations about allocating funds to specific programs, or “categoricals,” and grant more flexibility to Local Education Agencies. The three-year LCAP requires LEAs to spell out how they will use funds to meet state priorities such as serving high-needs students and ensuring readiness for college and career.

In almost five hours of public testimony, no consensus emerged but most opinions fell into three possible outcomes: 1) budget decisions are best left in the hands of school boards and LEAs; 2) the State Board should develop regulations for fund allocation, basically reinstating the recently abandoned categorical funding; and, 3) budgets need to be developed locally with parents and advocacy groups at the table, pencils in hand.

Board members will vote on revised regulations at the January meeting. How the State Board will reconcile public demand for tighter regulatory control with the governor’s commitment to local control and flexibility remains to be seen.

— By Gary Ravani, President, CFT EC/K-12 Council

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