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How much should your district spend on disadvantaged students next year?

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, March 14th, 2014 at 5:53 pm in Education.

As the July 1 deadline for creating district spending plans is looming under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, school officials should be asking parents how they believe money should be spent to best serve their children.

The state is allocating extra money to districts with low-income students, English learners and foster youth to help them close the achievement gap by providing services and programs to help disadvantaged children overcome challenges.

Ideally, districts should be telling parents how much money they are receiving through base grants for all students and through supplemental grants for disadvantaged students. Districts with more than 55 percent of students who fall into the three disadvantaged categories also receive concentration grants intended to provide extra help for them.

But some districts are more transparent than others about sharing their budget numbers with their communities during this planning process. To help level the playing field, the Education Trust-West advocacy organization has created a website at that provides a searchable database of most districts in the state showing how much each district is supposed to spend on high-need students. The database does not include districts serving 100 students or less or those with very few disadvantaged students that are receiving Economic Recovery Target Grants to help them reach the goal of increasing funding to 2007-08 levels in eight years.

Here’s a comparison of the percentage of disadvantaged students in some Alameda and Contra Costa districts, followed by the amount of money designated to serve those students next year, according to the site:

Hayward: 76 percent; $16 million
Livermore: 30 percent; $2.4 million
Newark: 60 percent; $2.8 million
Oakland: 74 percent; $27 million
San Lorenzo: 68 percent; $6.3 million

Antioch: 65 percent; $8.4 million
John Swett: 69 percent; $905,441
Mt. Diablo: 49 percent; $9.5 million
Pittsburg: 86 percent; $8.9 million
West Contra Costa: 74 percent; $19 million

Each district must include this amount of money designated for disadvantaged students in its Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP. These plans must describe a district’s goals, actions, and expenditures across eight state priority areas. The plans must also explain how supplemental and concentration funding will be spent on high-need students and describe how the district’s expenditures will increase or improve services for those students.

Districts are required to include a parent advisory group in the creation of the plans, said Carrie Hahnel of EdTrust-West. Some districts are creating special groups for this purpose, while others are using existing parent advisory groups, she said.

A best practice is to create a special group that includes representatives for low-income students, English learners and foster youth, she said. In addition, Hahnel said students should be involved in the process.

“There’s a difference between just asking for their input and authentically engaging them,” she said. “What we hear from some students is that they will share lists of things that they care about, but they don’t feel that’s going to actually affect the district’s plan in any way.”

Some districts are holding community meetings to explain the state’s requirements and solicit feedback. But Hahnel said it’s really important to make the connection between the budget and the plan during these meetings, instead of merely creating wish lists of programs and services.

“For some reason, districts want to skip over the budget part and get to the plan part once they get people in the room,” she said. “If the district has a strategic plan — put it out there. Talk about the new funding and have a dialogue about trade-offs. If we do a lot of new things, we might have old things we have to cut, so let’s talk about what we value and how much room we have for new investments.”

What trade-offs are being discussed in your district?

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313 Responses to “How much should your district spend on disadvantaged students next year?”

  1. Doctor J Says:

    I am not fooled by micro increases in MDUSD grad rates AFTER significant reduction in grad requirements. It’s meaningless.

  2. g. de la verdad Says:

    4/30 closed session agenda item 5.4, described as “Conference with Negotiators – Unrepresented Employees – Diablo Managers
    Association,” is a total misrepresentation of the actual purpose, based on the posted “Recommendation!”

    Discussion of Superintendent’s Council Contracts and
    future reorganization”

  3. Doctor J Says:

    I wonder how many free margaritas Dr. Nellie or Schoenke will be liquored with tomorrow ?? and the Board ? Remember Gov Code 3543.4 prohibits the board or supt from meeting or negotiating with DMA. Rose Lock and Julie B-M act like they are members and defenders of DMA — hello ? they are on the Supt’s council and also are prohibited from meeting or negotiating with them ! rose and Julie — read the by-laws of DMA : you are NOT members of DMA !

  4. g. de la verdad Says:

    Doesn’t it also seem like Meyer & Oaks should know not to hide Council contract discussions under a “DMA” and “Negotiation” heading?

  5. Doctor J Says:

    Schoenke is shooting from the hip on DMA. DMA had its tax exempt status revoked by the IRS for failure to file tax returns three years in a row. DMA is “headquartered” at Dent, according to the IRS– oohhh, that’s trouble right there. DMA’s by-laws don’t give them any right to represent members for purposes of salary negotiations — another violation of state and federal laws I am told. Schoenke’s reliance on Cooksey, B-M, and Lock for DMA’s legal status will prove ill advised. the last tax return was filed when Rose Lock was President of DMA. Don’t believe me ? Here is their EIN 68-0429205. All those donations to DMA ? doesn’t look like they are tax deductible. wait until the IRS comes knocking at your door.

  6. tmharrington Says:

    Julie Braun-Martin specifically told me that the superintendent’s council IS part of DMA, which was why she thought they deserved the DMA raises. Schoenke was the only exception, since he is on a post-retirement contract, she said.

  7. tmharrington Says:

    Here’s our database to look up individual grad rates:

    As previously discussed, there is a dearth of counselors in MDUSD. Note Don Gil’s quote regarding Antioch’s commitment to counselors: “The board made a really bold decision right when we were in the depths of the recession,” Gill said. “They said, ‘We need to bring back our high school counselors. This is one area where we cannot have our students foundering around, trying to figure out what do I need to do to graduate from high school.'”

    MDUSD could take a lesson from Antioch. But, is this being discussed as part of LCAP? Counselors would definitely help disadvantaged, at-risk students.

  8. g. de la verdad Says:

    Then why do they need individual, board approved contracts, instead of being on a set Pay Scale like DMA members? And why did she say that “traditionally” the Council gets a raise when DMA gets a raise? Doesn’t the terminology speak for itself, J.B-M?

  9. 2busymom Says:

    Is the city of Concord letting them use Centre Concord for free again? If so, they need to let all the school groups use it for free from here on out too!

  10. g. de la verdad Says:

    DMA Statement of Mutual Purpose:
    “The purpose of this statement, DMA represents all certificated management personnel, who are not employed pursuant to individual contracts, all classified managers and all confidential employees of the district.”
    “…who are not employed pursuant to individual contracts…” That’s pretty much it in a nut shell. Of course, no one has ever accused J. B-M of being particularly astute.

  11. Doctor J Says:

    Julie B-M speaks out of both sides of her mouth. As g pointed out the Board and DMA “Statement of Mutual Purpose” is clear that the Supt’s Council is not now, nor has ever been members of DMA. Schoenke forced San Diego USD managers into their own union — perhaps that is his M.O. Here too.

  12. Doctor J Says:

    I guess the only way to find out is to call Centre Concord and ask them — if they don’t tell you, do a PRA request for the contract and emails between them and MDEA.

  13. tmharrington Says:

    On another note, here’s a story about the third annual Special Olympics games held at Acalanes HS in Lafayette yesterday:

    It was nice to see MDUSD’s Bridge program there.

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