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Monday, March 18 , 2019, 7:38 am | Fair 51º


Santa Barbara Unified Sets Public Meetings as School Districts Work on Required Accountability Plans

South Coast school districts are working on the strategic planning document required by the state as part of the new funding formula put in place for next year.

The Local Control Funding Formula is based on enrollment but gives additional funding for English learners, low-income and foster youth students. All districts should be funded at pre-recession levels by 2021, but the Santa Barbara Unified School District isn’t seeing a boost in funding yet, Superintendent Dave Cash said. 

The state requires every district to create a Local Control Accountability Plan document as part of the new funding model. District leaders have to solicit input from parents, teachers, students and community members and then draft a plan that follows a strict state template.

The three-year plans will be adopted by July 1 along with district budgets.

It all sounds very complicated, but the state basically wants every district to explain how local funding decisions (and the budget) will advance the state’s eight education priorities.

Santa Barbara Unified will host three public meetings to get more input from the community, after holding dozens of meetings already with parents, teachers and other stakeholder groups. 

The meetings will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. this Wednesday at the Dos Pueblos High School theater, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the San Marcos High School theater and next Wednesday, April 9, from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. at the Franklin Elementary School auditorium.

Input from public meetings will be added to the framework, and then the school board will host two public hearings before adopting the final document in June. 

Cash said the big goals of Santa Barbara’s first draft plan are to get every student up to grade level after three years in the district and every English learner reclassified as fluent after five years in the district.

That aligns with state priorities to improve student achievement and have students ready for college or career when they graduate from K-12 institutions.

Students may go to a community college, university, trade school or straight into the work force after high school, but the district wants them to have the choice to do any of those, Cash said.

“I believe strongly that the most important change we can make is in the classroom,” he said.

Santa Barbara Unified has emphasized more professional development and teacher-led Professional Learning Communities so faculty and staff can work together toward better student results.

To boost English language arts achievement, the plan proposes additional class time after school for English learner students to get individualized curriculum and a better chance to catch up.

For math, there would be more support during regular classes to make sure students understand the foundations for every new concept they learn, instead of assuming they remember from an earlier course.

What definitely doesn’t work for math is having a struggling student take an extra period of algebra, Cash said.

“Instead of getting one ‘F,’ they get two,” he said.

The Goleta Union School District is still working on its first draft of the LCAP, Superintendent Bill Banning said.

He’s met with stakeholder groups and went beyond the requirements by meeting with the Goleta Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Goleta Noontime Rotary Club to get the business community’s perspective.

“We’re unusual in that we’ve been doing parallel work on the LCAP and Strategic Plan,” he said.

The two planning documents are very similar, since they both require a three-year plan and annual review of goals and budget details. The Strategic Plan includes the district’s visionary goals and goes beyond the state priorities of under-performing subgroups like foster youth, English learner students and low-income students, Banning said.

“What the Strategic Plan adds to the LCAP is more visionary language of the mission, core values and broader statements that overview what the district is trying to do, the vision of what it’s trying to become,” he said. “Those are not required in the LCAP; that’s really about meeting the specific needs of specific student groups.”

Goleta Union will have online surveys available starting next week so people can give input before the public hearings scheduled for early June.

Hope Elementary School District  has a draft plan already on its website and has met with an advisory committee and bargaining unit leaders. Every school site council will provide input and the public can comment through the website, Superintendent Dan Cooperman said. 

Hope's public hearing will be held in May and the board will be approving a final plan in June. 

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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