SMMUSD HDQRTRS ‚Äî District officials want to put state funding toward, among other things, closing the gap between general education students and Spanish speakers, those with disabilities, and economic disadvantages.
Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Terry Deloria presented the Board of Education with a list of district goals for the next five years at the most recent meeting.
Next year, California will enact a change in the public school funding model, giving local districts more control over how cash is allocated. Along with the freedom of the Local Control Funding Formula comes a set of goals, created by the district, community, and board and then approved by the state.
Previously, the state funds would get earmarked for specific spending uses. California would give the district, for example, a set amount of money that had to be spent on textbooks and another set amount that had to be spent on janitorial services.
Each district now gets cash for each student in the district and bonuses for each economically disadvantaged student and student whose first language is not English.
The state demands a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) set up by the district to show that the funds are being used correctly. A LCAP committee of community members and district officials has been meeting once a month since February.
There are eight priorities, each with a couple goals. Some of the proposed goals are specific, like a push make 75 percent of students from each ethnic background have all the qualifications necessary for University of California colleges by 2019-20. Last year, 68 percent of students were qualified, but the scores were much lower for black and Hispanic kids. This means that the teachers, parents, and students have to pull up the scores among minority groups at a faster rate than they would for their white peers.
Other categories are more ambiguous, thanks to federal education changes also going into effect next year.
Common Core, a national set of standards designed to increase the level of rigor and provide more real-life application in schools, starts next year. Old state tests that monitor improvements will be thrown out the window in favor of new Common Core-based testing.
For this reason, district administrators won’t have a standardized baseline for next year’s improvements.
Some achievement goals for next year are left blank for third through 11th graders. Once they have a baseline from the new tests, they will try to improve those scores by two percent and then four percent in the following years.
In kindergarten through second grade, they will seek to improve literacy rates.
Other goals involve improving the proportionality of the rate. The district wants more minorities to be taking Advanced Placement courses. They want the suspension rate to even out among children of all races.
They hope to improve the cleanliness of the schools. Currently, 10 of 16 are considered acceptably clean and they would like to add two schools to that list every year. Part of the state money will go toward hiring 15 additional janitors before next school year.
Currently, a quarter of all students in sixth grade and beyond are getting a D or F in their math class. The district wants that number to drop to one in 10 by 2019-20.
One goal, added at the request of parent groups, seeks to increase the number of students who say they feel safe at school.
Parents tend to think that a reduction in class sizes is the top priority for meeting these goals. Class sizes will drop some next year thanks several added positions.
Strategies are still being formulated and will be heard by the board in June.
One struggle in creating the goals, Deloria said, is that many things are still undefined.
“If we meet our benchmark, what does it mean? If we don’t, what does it mean?” she said to the board. “So there are areas still being worked out at the state level.”
During the public input portion of the item parents expressed concern that not enough is being done to address the achievement gap.
Board Chair Maria Leon-Vazquez said that the LCAP committee is not diverse enough.
The district will seek approval of the goals in June.