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Possible showdown at state Board of Education meeting Thursday over proposed Local Control Funding regulations

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 8:54 pm in California, Education, Local Control Funding Formula.

The state Board of Education could face a showdown Thursday over proposed regulations for school spending under the new Local Control Funding Formula.

A coalition of civil rights groups including Education Trust-West sent a letter Thursday to Michael Kirst, board president, expressing strong concerns about whether money intended for disadvantaged students will really end up helping them. The advocacy group EdVoice sent a similar letter.

Draft language to be reviewed by trustees would give school districts three ways to satisfy the requirement that they demonstrate increased or improved services for English learners, low-income students and foster youth in proportion to increased funding distributed through supplemental and concentration grants.

1. Districts could spend more money on services for those students in proportion to the increase in supplemental and concentration grant funds over the amount spent the previous year.

2. Districts could provide more, or improve, services for those students in proportion to the increase in grant funding.

3. Districts could promise to improve the achievement of disadvantaged students in proportion to the increase in grant funding.

Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust-West, said the civil rights coalition supports combining the first two options and eliminating the third.

“We think that’s the most rational way for them to actually comply with the law,” he said. “That would be providing for and spending more on high need students.”

The first option could allow districts to claim they will spend more, without documenting what they would spend it on, he said. If the second option is combined with the first, districts would be forced to outline how they would spend the money on needy students, he said.
Ramanathan called the option to plan to increase achievement “the biggest loophole ever.”

“So basically, you say, ‘OK, we’re just going to plan on increasing achievement in the next few years and we’re just going to use our money whatever way we want,” Ramanathan said. “They have structural costs they want to address. They want to put chunks of money into salary increases and to offset health benefits costs and put money into reserves. But that money is to be used for kids.”

Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s radical shift in school funding, districts get three pots of money: base student grants, supplemental grants for English learners, low-income students and foster youth; and concentration grants for districts where more than 55 percent of students fall into those categories. The idea behind the new law was that the supplemental and concentration grants would help districts overcome persistent achievement gaps.

After the law went into effect July 1, an implementation working group began meeting to come up with draft recommendations for spending regulations the board must approve by January. Although Ed Trust-West and some other advocacy groups participated in the group, Ramanathan said their voices were drowned out by representatives of those who work inside school systems, including unions for teachers and administrators.

Many union members are now eyeing the new money for raises. Ramanathan said it’s appropriate to use the base grant money for across-the-board raises, but not the supplemental and concentration grants.

“I think what they’ve done now is essentially a bait and switch,” he said. “When it comes down to it they are listening to the Sacramento interest groups.”

Similarly, the letter from EdVoice said the proposed regulations “fall far short of the governor’s promise and don’t satisfy the protections of all students guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Ramanathan challenged the board to think about the legacy promised to California children.

“If you’re going to have essentially a vast swath of civil rights organizations saying this isn’t fair,” he said, “then what’s the legacy here?”

Here is the coalition’s letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceS3NnaDBQel9aTFk/edit?usp=sharing

Here is the EdVoice letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6mS2O1_NKceQ1VST3dKQW1Yenc/edit?usp=sharing

Do you support the three proposed options for demonstrating evidence of increased or improved services for disadvantaged students?

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  • Doctor J

    DMA beating their chests — using District email no less — they get “whatever everyone else gets” as a “me too” group in the labor negotiations. Looks like they think that if MDEA gets MDV benefits, DMA will just take that money as a salary increase spiking their salaries and ultimately retirement benefits, and increasing the salary gap between teachers and administrators. Barbara Oaks says there is a 4 1/2 % increase coming — isn’t that supposed to end up in the classroom, not the teacher’s and administrator’s bank accounts ? And since the other unions are not allowed to use District emails, why is DMA ? Who is on the district negotiating team for negotiating with the various labor groups ? Of course — ALL DMA MEMBERS who are the ‘ME TOO’ group, getting identical money to whatever they give away to the employees groups. What is their incentive for tough bargaining ? NONE !

  • Doctor J

    I think MDUSD is in violation of Government Code 3543.4: A person serving in a management position, senior management position, or a confidential position may not be represented by an exclusive representative. Any person serving in such a position may represent himself or herself individually or by an employee organization whose membership is composed entirely of employees designated as holding those positions, in his or her employment relationship with the public school employer, but, in no case, shall such an organization meet and negotiate with the public school employer. A representative may not be permitted by a public school employer to meet and negotiate on any benefit or compensation paid to persons serving in a management position, senior management position, or a confidential position. – See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/GOV/1/1/d4/10.7/4/s3543.4#sthash.mwKj8DGC.dpuf

  • Doctor J

    Why do district administrators [DMA members] get identical raises to the union represented employees ? I cannot find a single Board agenda and vote authorizing any raises to the district administrators salaries for the last ten years that I searched. So why is Cindy Matteoni, DMA President, telling all administrators that DMA gets what everyone else gets ? Are there secret negotiations going on ?

  • Doctor J
  • g. de la verdad

    First items on the CDE agenda for Thurs 11/7 at 8am is presentation of the LCFF Draft.

    Excellent EdSourse article by a San Bernardino parent pretty much says it all, and second paragraph includes a link directly to the Draft Regulations.

    http://www.edsource.org/today/2013/school-funding-reform-must-not-fall-short-of-its-promise/41194
    While the Draft Regulations appear to be firm and direct, like all CA State “regulations” they are more like a bowl of jello—plenty of wiggle and jiggle — for the bureaucrats to make sure they get ‘theirs’ first — students somewhere down the line.

  • Doctor J

    State funding for Common Core computers, textbooks, and teacher training is only about $200 per student — where will the rest of the money come from ? http://www.modbee.com/2013/11/02/3008468/common-core-incurs-uncommon-costs.html

  • Doctor J

    IMPASSE declared: MDEA still at 7% raise with single Kaiser medical; Board at 3% raise but apparently willing to use some of that 3% for medical — at least that’s what I can gather by the poorly written MDEA summary: http://www.ourmdea.org/uploads/2/7/2/2/2722776/bargaining_update_10_-_2013-14_1.docx

  • tmharrington

    Here’s my news brief on the impasse: http://www.contracostatimes.com/concord/ci_24462222/mt-diablo-school-district-and-teachers-union-declare

    Guy Moore and Nellie Meyer confirmed that the district would continue to offer benefits at the current level, in addition to the 3 percent raise, under its offer.

  • tmharrington

    Thanks for the update on the LCFF placement on the agenda: http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/ag/ag/yr13/agenda201311.asp

  • tmharrington

    Speaking of state education funding, here’s a new blog post on $250 million in linked learning grants through a Career Pathways Trust: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2013/11/06/hands-on-learning-opportunities-in-high-schools-could-grow-in-state/

    MDUSD is one of several districts participating in a statewide linked learning pilot.

  • Doctor J

    Fantastic discussion this morning on the Math standards: Pres. Kirst told us how ACT in 2014 and SAT in 2015 will change their tests to focus on Common Core.

  • Doctor J

    Also, Univ of Calif is changing their A-G requirements to align with Common Core. MDUSD better get with it !

  • Doctor J

    The teachers — not the union — are grumbling LOUDLY about the district’s lack of an improved offer yesterday AS WAS PROMISED AT THE BOARD MEETING. I sense an early sudden onset of the flu to hit on Friday morning — which would give them 4 days to “recover”. :-)

  • Doctor J

    Minutes ago, the District posted a “new” offer to MDEA — the district seems to be posturing to avoid a sickout on Friday. “Today, November 6, the District formalized and transmitted the District’s last, best, and final offer (“LBFO”). The LBFO is one of the Board’s conceptual ideas the District’s team discussed at the bargaining table of November 5 and which was rejected by MDEA. The District has urged MDEA to put the LBFO to its membership for a vote.”

    Read the rest at: http://www.mdusd.org/Forms/Documents/Impasse%20with%20MDEA.pdf

  • Doctor J

    Brown’s LCFF is compared with Brown’s Bullet Train: ” just another expensive boondoggle” as fight over implementation regulations heats up.
    http://www.sacbee.com/2013/11/06/5884829/dan-walters-conflict-hits-californias.html

  • Doctor J

    A real verbal battle going on at the SBE LCFF discussion — public comments are limited to one minute. Those who have submitted written comments seem to have an advantage.

  • Doctor J

    One of the most poignant comments by a school board member from Woodland, Yolo County. To paraphrase: Just look at who is supporting less regulation: the status quo. We cannot continue the status quo — we need strict regulations to prevent the abuses of the past. I believe it was Dr. Cirenio Rodriguez but hard to tell with his cowboy hat.

  • Doctor J

    188 speakers at CDE took polarizing positions on LCFF — accountability vs. local autonomy — in a marathon public comment. “Ironically, the hours-long discussion coincided with federal education authorities’ announcement Thursday that California’s elementary students continued their poor standing in the latest nationwide reading and mathematics tests, ranking among the nation’s 10 lowest-performing states. The tests showed, not for the first time, a wide gap between poor students and their more affluent classmates.” “Another board member, Carl Cohn, said the debate reflected deep mistrust between parents and local school officials and for the new plan to succeed, there would have to be “a new level of trust-building at the local level.” Well, it doesn’t look like there is much “trust building” happening in MDUSD yet with the rancor between MDEA and the Board. Dr. Nellie confirms the “finial offer” with Theresa the other night and then the Board late yesterday posts another “offer” to try and avert a sickout tomorrow. Lets see if it works.

    Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/11/californias-new-school-finance-plan-sparks-big-debate.html#storylink=cpy

  • Doctor J
  • Guest

    Theresa,
    Reading

  • tmharrington

    Did your comment get cut off?

  • Doctor J

    Theresa, I believe under the Disqus system, when a person cancels their account, it reverts to “Guest”. We saw this last week with “Phoenix” — his/her posts now appear as “Guest”.

  • tmharrington

    OK, but that still doesn’t explain why the comment appears to be cut off.

  • Doctor J

    Equity Advisory Team Agenda posted for 3:00 pm Nov 14 — horrible time for parental involvement. Not 72 hours notice. Oct 3 minutes not attached — “approval” listed only as “information” — WTH ? SEIS Quarterly report not attached. Effective Behavior Support Survey that was taken at all schools is not attached. “Networking with other Advisory Team Members” — Sounds like a way to have secret conversations without the public being made a part. Who exactly is on this “team” ? When did the approve of the membership ?

  • Doctor J

    Are Mildred Browne, Steven Lawrence, Sherry Whitmarsh, Kate McClatchy, Susan Petersen, Mike Langley, Bill Morones, still Board approved members of the Equity Advisory Team ? I can’t find a more recent list. http://esb.mdusd.k12.ca.us/attachments/9e92c827-1e0f-4717-b461-cfba82fb085c.pdf

  • g. de la verdad

    I wouldn’t be surprised, as it appears Gary Eberhart is still the board rep for Measure C oversight. But then again, no one has seen fit to update committee members or post meeting minutes for a year. Cody is too busy ‘creating’ bids.

  • Doctor J

    How is MDUSD using their $200 per student for Common Core ? I noticed in this mornings article no comment from MDUSD ?

  • g. de la verdad

    It looks like a big crowd is expected at tonight’s board meeting, as they’ve moved the location. Hopefully the board won’t become so swollowed up in the Aquatics debacle that they overlook or speed through some other items that need close scrutiny.

  • Doctor J

    MDUSD unprepared to meet increased testing requirements in just four months ! Under financial pressure from the feds, California proposes to test most students in BOTH math and English — MDUSD construction schedule is inadequate. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/state-538283-students-new.html

  • g. de la verdad

    Noguchi has an article running today, but you’ll chew a hole in your tongue trying to read past the lack of proofreading. http://www.mercurynews.com/education/ci_24580452/california-switches-testing-plans-but-may-still-risk

  • Tk

    This is going to be an issue with many districts across the state. But we are being told that our new tech hardware should be in place near the end of March or early April. (At least at my site), and that we’re going to be dealt with after the high schools and middle schools.

  • Doctor J

    @TK, but that was BEFORE — MDUSD spends more time doing stadium lights and swimming pools than education. Now Calif is doubling the test audience, doubling the amount of testing, and old construction schedules are way behind the time. There is just four months to fix it — and that includes one month off for vacations. Once again, MDUSD caught short.

  • Doctor J

    Less money will be available for administrator and teacher salaries/benefits in MDUSD. Love the legislators who demand “Transparency of school – and district-level expenditures . . . is essential for local accountability and public/parent participation.” Yesterday, leaders of the state Senate and Assembly criticized proposed regulations on state funding for the state’s neediest students as inconsistent with the intent of the new school finance law. Legislators and advocates are arguing that the proposed regulations for the Local Control Funding Formula would give districts too much flexibility to decide how to spend money targeted for high-needs students and create loopholes that could be used for district-wide salary/benefit increases. Among the recommendations:

    1. Eliminate the option that districts could set goals and claim they raised student achievement for targeted students without actually spending proportionally more money on them;

    2. Ensure that, in districts and schools with few high-needs students, money is spent directly on services for those students and not on school-wide or district-wide purposes;

    3. Create a standard methodology for determining how much money for calculating how much districts receive under LCFF for high-needs students;

    4. Standardize the reporting of outcomes and growth data under the LCAP so that districts statewide can be compared;

    5. Make reporting of expenditures under the LCAP transparent so that parents and the public can see which services are for targeted students, how much will be spent on them and whether the expenditures are for schoolwide or districtwide purposes.

    Read the letter: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/842045-lcff-regs-legisleaders-oppose112513.html

    Great article by Fensterwald: http://edsource.org/today/2013/top-legislators-join-critics-of-proposed-regs-for-new-funding-formula/50236#.UpTTYKPTnIW

  • Doctor J

    Fensterwald article today generated some fantastic comments on “following the money” in the district. Karen Swett a retired educator gave some hints on how to learn to follow the money. Let me just give a few examples: “…all spending is described by a “code-string”. SACS coding provides the transparency. ….Following the money is easy if you can read SACS reports and if each pot of money has it own name. Reading SACS reports is easy. That’s what we – Making Cents Work – does. We teach parents to read their schoolsite checkbook. We track/follow/ monitor ALL the money at a school site – not just Title I or EIA or QEIA, etc. Think about it – it’s our kids and our money. MCW can teach you how to do this.. …I have hundreds of examples (all in Sac-City Unified). I send a request to the district budget office and they send me the report via email. The report is directly from our district fiscal software database. (We use Escape.) Making Cents Work is a grassroots effort – we started “teaching SACS” about 3 years ago. We are currently in the process of creating a website. We just created a FB page. We will be posting to both soon. What is the name of the fiscal software being used in LAUSD? Give me the name of the school site checkbook you would like to look at. I always look at demographic and achievement data before I request the site fiscal data. MCW’s tag line is: “Connecting Spending to Student Outcomes.” . . . Our district has recently started posting SACS reports on its web site. In fact, they are flooding the web site. Unfortunately they are being selective as to the data they are querying and they are sorting data in a way that is mostly not useful. One must first learn to read the SACS code-string, then know how to ask for the report. After many years of doing this I’m very confident that my advice is good. Learn “how” to ask and you will get the total fiscal picture you need for the purpose you are working on. i taught myself how to use the Escape data base after I was given access to “help parents and schoolsite councils”. I had read-only access and pulled reports for parents, schools, board members, etc. You want to examine the cost of utilities, broken down by site? You want to teachers and substitutes as two different line items? You want to see how much was spent on “non-essential” books using LCCF money only? Then compare it to other money? Or you just want to follow the money at your school site. All this can be done and should be done. By the way – I’m a retired CA cert. teacher. My credential is K-12, Phys. Ed. It’s just a database. A very, very, very big and powerful database. Ask for “read-only” access to your district fiscal software, plunk yourself down in a parent resource center at your favorite school site, teach yourself how to navigate the software (If I can do it, you can do it) and follow YOUR money.. .. Follow the CDE’s Guide for doing needs assessment. Look at the achievement data – longitudinal, trends – and do a Comprehensive Needs Assessment. This isn’t about what someone “thinks” is best. Follow best practice models once the need has been determined. And CERTAINLY – ask the teachers and the parents. They – not administrators – spend the most time with the kids. Ask them. A well-done needs assessment process will answer your questions…. ”

    THE ANSWERS ARE THERE — WE JUST NEED ACCESS !!!

    http://edsource.org/today/2013/top-legislators-join-critics-of-proposed-regs-for-new-funding-formula/50236#.UpU_waPTnIW