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Did your school district seek your input into its accountability plan?

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 6:49 pm in California, Education.

WCCUSD parents hold signs asking trustees to listen to their concerns.

WCCUSD parents hold signs asking trustees to listen to their concerns.

Time is running out for local school districts to adopt new plans for the future showing the public how they will spend state money to meet student goals. School boards must adopt the plans by July 1.

This month, districts throughout the state are holding public hearings to review their draft plans before finalizing them. School districts were required to seek input from parents, staff and community members regarding their priorities for meeting the needs of students, especially low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

Now is the time to look for your districts plan on its website and to e-mail your superintendent and school board if you have questions or suggestions. You can also attend school board meetings where your plans will be discussed and speak directly to trustees about your concerns.

Every plan must address eight state priorities. These are:

1. Basic services: Including appropriately assigned and credentialed teachers, availability of appropriate instructional materials, facilities in good repair.

2. Common Core standards: Implementation for all students including English learners.

3. Parental involvement: Including seeking input and improving parent participation.

4. Student achievement: Including test scores, English learner reclassification rates to proficiency, college-readiness and Advance Placement courses taken.

5. Student engagement: Including attendance, absenteeism, dropout and graduation rates.

6. School climate: Including suspensions, expulsions and other data.

7. Broad course of study: Including student access to all required curriculum areas.

8. Course of study outcomes: Other indicators of student performance

The Education Trust-West student advocacy group has developed a Local Control and Accountability Plan Evaluation Checklist to help parents and other community members review their district’s plans to be sure they meet legal requirements and clearly communicate district goals and plans for achieving those goals.

It includes guiding questions aimed at ensuring your district is developing its plan in a transparent and coherent way.

Here are some sample questions from the checklist, broken into categories required to be included in the plans:

1: Stakeholder engagement

Legal requirements

— Is a parent advisory committee reviewing the draft plan and providing written comments? Is the superintendent answering in writing?

— Did the district consult with parents, students, teachers, principals, administrators, other school employees and local bargaining units?

Beyond minimum requirements

— Did the district explain how it planned to incorporate community input into the plan?

— Are the advisory committees comprised primarily of parents?

2: Goals and progress

Legal requirements

— Did the district specify to which student groups each goal applies (e.g. all students, English learners, etc.)

— Did the district incorporate school-specific goals from school site plans?

Beyond the minimum

— Are the goals specific enough that the district can measure progress toward achieving them?

— Does the district have a clearly stated vision for how it plans to improve student success?

3: Goals, actions and expenditures

Legal requirements

— Is it clear how much money has been budgeted for each action? Does the amount seem reasonable?

— Did the district describe how it arrived at the amount of spending it is required to use to increase and improve services to high-need students?

Beyond the minimum

— Are the proposed actions likely to help the district achieve the related goals?

— Are the listed actions or services specific enough to convey exactly what the district will be doing or implementing?

The entire checklist is available by visiting http://fairshare4kids.org/toolkit. Click on “View Checklist.”

How do you rate your district’s plan according to the check list?

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  • Doctor J

    Buried in the budget: The Martin civil cases take millions out of your children’s classrooms — and the responsible administrators have been promoted and given raises, with not a single one being fired. Just today posted by MDUSD: “We have an ongoing litigation matter. while it is unknown at this time what will occur, it could entail the expenditure of in excess of $3 Million over the next two years. We will be looking into creating an insurance reserve of $1 Million each year, if feasible.” MDUSD fails to state how much has been spent to date. To equal the recent molestation settlements in a nearby district, the amount could exceed $100 Million, right out of your children’s classrooms. See S-1 Contingent Liabilities attachment at p. 14 of 27.

  • g. de la verdad

    Say it isn’t so. Tim Cody, Melanie Koslow at the district, Taber at the helm and Alisha Jensen there charging for 14 hours a day on inspection of the job and site — can’t be true!

  • Doctor J

    I would hope every board member and the
    supt were asked by a thousand taxpayers. “If feasible” ??? What does that mean ? Is $3 Million for 14 victims enough when two victims a few miles away were just paid $14 Million ? Nellie and the Board need to be responsive and forthright, not some balderdash of “if feasible” ? I can’t find any money set aside in the proposed budget for fully funded sports or fully funded 5th grade music. board, show us the money, line item by line item.

  • k. saint

    While it is unfortunate, it is not odd that PH Ed Com meetings occur on Wednesday. Meetings took place on Wednesday well before MDUSD moved its meeting date. The Ed Com meets in the large community room at City Hall, which is also reserved for other regularly scheduled city meetings; the room is widely used and shuffling Ed Com meeting dates/times impacts others. All that said, thank you for bringing this matter to light as perhaps it is time to reshuffle; watching the MDUSD meetings on live stream after an ed com meeting makes for a long night :) The PHMS school climate issues have moved from anonymous complaints to productive dialogue. Tomorrow evening, the Ed Com will debrief on outcomes as an agenda item.

  • Doctor J

    The budget numbers don’t add up. just a couple of examples. One has to compare the 13/14 Budget approved a year ago June 24, 2013, the 2nd Interim Report March 10, 2014, and the current proposed budget for 14/15. the Board just approved restoration of all CST hours, yet the 14/15 budget only shows an increase of .3% in Classified Salaries. Why ? Certificated salaries (admins and teachers) only increased 3.2 % which is calculated after the 3% was paid for retro to July 1 — the truth is that Administrators and teachers budget in one year increased a total of 5.9% from $126 Million to $134 Million. Benefits to all employees increased by $10 Million or 18.6%. the districts STRS contribution increased by 19.4 % or about $2.25 million. yet, the District refuses to fully fund an insurance reserve to compensate the Martin victims — “if feasible” — for just $3 Million. Do the children come first ? Not in MDUSD. last but not least, there are no identifiable budget line items to fully fund sports or to fully fund 5th Grade Music programs including music and instruments. show me the line items June.

  • Tk

    The ‘Children come first’ line has little to do with the budget, of course. This comes from teachers, and site level staff who actually commit their time, energy, and lives to the betterment of our children. You really won’t find it in a budget.

    But showing appreciation for teachers, and making sure that the good ones don’t leave, is a step in the right direction. Visit a site, and you’ll see it in action. The staff in the MDUSD cares a lot and has for years. They have stuck with this district through a lot of BS. Why would they if it wasn’t because they put the kids first?

  • tmharrington

    The person who wrote the letter seems very credible. She even included a photo of the box cutter, which she said was permanently stuck in the open position with a nail, which may violate laws and is at least contrary to accepted practice.

  • tmharrington

    Thanks for this clarification.

  • tmharrington

    Speaking of numbers that don’t add up, here’s my story on the Acalanes school board’s decision to issue $15 million in new construction bond debt, despite the fact that the district is already exceeding the property tax rate promised to voters in its 2008 Measure E ballot language: http://www.contracostatimes.com/lafayette/ci_26033754/acalanes-district-exceeds-promised-tax-rate-issues-more

  • g. de la verdad

    Brown Act and public input be damned! “Some” of the MDUSD board decided to meet two hours early – at 4pm instead of the posted 6pm, and discuss “some” of the closed session items, without announcing which items those might be, and further indicated that they would reconvene at the posted 6pm, apparently without a conviction to actually reconvening on time, to discuss “some more” of the unannounced closed session items.
    WTH is the matter with these people. Are we really going to renew Shoenke for a full year of this kind of il-legal advice?????? Just because there may be no public in attendance (at the moment) does not mean you can ignore their right to know when the board will actually be taking action!

  • tmharrington

    Here is a new blog post with tonight’s agenda, for those who would like to comment on the meeting: http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2014/06/25/mt-diablo-school-board-to-make-appointments-approve-accountability-plan-and-budget/

  • tmharrington

    Here’s a new blog post about the reaction I’m getting from Acalanes residents after they learned about the district’s broken tax rate promise: http://bit.ly/1qksh3i

  • tmharrington

    WCCUSD committee to rename Portola MS in El Cerrito expects to decide on its recommendation to the board tomorrow: http://www.wccusd.net/Page/4506