Time extended to comment on Merced City School District’s new accountability plan

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJune 11, 2014 

Parents, staff members, teachers and community residents will have a couple more weeks to study the Merced City School District’s new state-mandated Local Control Accountability Plan.

Board of Education members Tuesday night scheduled a special session June 23 to discuss the accountability plan, now required as part of how the state finances local schools. The LCAP and the 2014-15 fiscal year budget will be ratified the next day at a regularly scheduled board meeting.

Board member Adam Cox said he is pleased that the newly unveiled accountability plan will be explained more at the study session. He said he likes what’s in the accountability plan but wants more time to study it in detail.

“This is the first year of the LCAP and I wanted to make sure the parents and staff really understand what’s in it,” Cox said. “It can’t be just sitting on a shelf gathering dust. Every dollar we spend must be aligned with the LCAP.”

Board member Gene Stamm wants to see the LCAP plan printed in Hmong and Spanish for local residents and pressed for more time to study the document.

“I want stakeholders to know how the plan will affect them,” Stamm said.

Along with discussion and a public hearing Tuesday on the LCAP, the board also looked at its budget for the fiscal year that begins in July. Linda Jordan, the district’s chief fiscal officer, said the 2014-15 budget will be $91.9 million, more than $5 million over the budget for the current fiscal year.

Jordan said there are additional funds for the district through the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula and money formerly associated with the separately operated Fremont Charter School is now part of the general fund budget. Fremont’s charter school status expires at the end of June.

RoseMary Parga Duran, district superintendent, said the delay will give parents more time to study the accountability plan.

Duran said it’s nice the district has developed a plan to close the student achievement gap. The LCAP is an opportunity to advance science, technology, engineering, arts and math programs, and students will thrive, she added.

“I think we have a solid plan,” Duran said. “The arts will help develop English language skills.”

A staff summary of the LCAP said it is expected the new plan will engage and exhilarate students, their families, staff members and the community. It also is expected that the plan will lead to great student success for economically disadvantaged, English learner, foster youth and special education students, along with mainstream pupils.

In other matters, board members approved buying $225,704 in instructional supplies for the next school year. They also ratified a facilities lease agreement with the Merced County Office of Education that will lead to construction of a new $2.1 million special education wing at Joe Stefani Elementary School.

The district also will trade properties with the county schools office between Rivera and Tenaya middle schools. Rivera Middle School is being converted to a kindergarten through eighth-grade school and the special education facility there will be shifted to the former library at Tenaya Middle School, said Greg Spicer, associate superintendent for administrative services.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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