By DYLAN MIARS
The Local Control and Accountability Plan is a critical part of California’s new Local Control Funding Formula. This new addition to California school districts is a measure that places additional funding for individual school districts in the hands of the community rather than state, county or district officials.
The Local Control Funding Formula, as defined by the California Department of Education, creates funding targets based on student characteristics and provides greater flexibility to use these funds to improve student outcomes. This most targets explicitly underperforming demographics, also known as the “unduplicated count.” These include groups such as low-socioeconomic households, English language learners, and foster youth. LCFF and LCAP dollars are intended to help these specific students, but if the student body composition of a given school district’s subgroup youth exceeds 55 percent–58 percent in the case of Redlands Unified–the funding’s impact can extend to those that do not fall directly under the LCFF definition.
The Redlands Unified School District has used the additional budget through the creation of programs such as the Redlands Ready Initiative. This provides free Scholastic Aptitude Tests for juniors, five-dollar Advanced Placement exams for high schoolers, dual enrollment courses with the local community college as well as other programs to prepare students for college and career pathways.
One of the pillars of LCFF is the local control within each school district. With that requirement, school districts formulate advisory committees composed of classified and certificated staff members, students and community members. This advisory board takes a hands-on approach by looking at all the data from the programs and determining if these newly funded paths to a better school environment are genuinely helping students. From there, recommendations are provided on a scale: Expansion, Maintain, Cut Back or Eliminate. These recommendations, as well as new ideas, are then presented to the school board.
While LCAP and LCFF are still in their infancy with the 2017-18 school year being only the fourth year in effect, the Redlands Unified School District has innovated with their LCAP Advisory Committee through an open willingness to suggestion–exemplified through their eagerness for comments and questions from committee members and the launch of the ThoughtExchange trial for the city of Redlands to participate in–as well as through inviting more and more members of the community each year.
This article is the first in a series of articles on the Local Control Accountability Plan and its effects on the Redlands Unified School District.