The Merced City School District Board of Education meeting that was held at Rivera Middle School on June 13 was filled with encouraging moments regarding our Local Control Accountability Plan.
Several parents and other stakeholders expressed their gratitude for the work that went into the 2017-2020 draft and the sense that their voices have been heard. While we sincerely appreciate those uplifting words, we also want to take time to thank all of the people who have worked together over the past several years to get our district to this point as we remain committed to continuous improvement.
The LCAP first emerged in 2013-2014 when California shifted to the Local Control Funding Formula. The LCFF replaced the previous K-12 finance system that had been in place for about 40 years. Instead of allocating funds for programs and services the state determines are a priority, the new system gives local school boards control over how to use funds and resources to improve outcomes and opportunities for all students. A portion of the money received through the LCFF is specifically provided to address growth for students who are economically disadvantaged, English language learners and/or foster youth. Those funds require a Local Control Accountability Plan, which details how that growth will be achieved.
Stakeholder engagement is a key piece of the LCAP process because it brings together parents, students, educators, administrators, and community members with the common goal of supporting student success. Our district has continued to seek the most effective ways to gather input in a productive and meaningful way. That process has evolved over the years and is now very site-centered in order to meet the unique needs of each campus. During this past year, all of our 18 schools designated a parent, a teacher, and a classified staff member to serve as LCAP representatives as part of their School Site Councils. We also reached out to all parents, MCSD employees, and community members through phone calls, text messages, social media posts, website updates, surveys, and press releases. It was exciting to see hundreds of people attend three district-wide forums throughout the year and to know the conversations were continuing at each school site. We also enjoyed collaborating with several community-based organizations, including Building Healthy Communities, the Merced Organizing Project, Cultiva la Salud, Parents for Quality Education, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which all provided unique and valuable perspectives.
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Once all of the information was gathered, our district staff went to work analyzing, prioritizing, determining estimated expenses, and writing a draft of the plan. They had to keep in mind not only the feedback from stakeholders, but also state based priorities and the plan’s local goals for student achievement. Some of the highlights this year include simultaneous interpretation equipment (utilizing headsets and an audio booth) to improve communication with families during certain meetings and large events, updated technology in the classroom, and funding for the district’s STEAM Center, which will provide hands-on learning and teacher training in the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. The draft is now published on our district website (http://www.mcsd.k12.ca.us/District/Department/38-LCAP-Info) and was available at 24 other locations the during the public inspection period earlier this month. A public hearing was held during the June 13 Board meeting, and the final adoption is scheduled for the June 27 meeting. Approval of the district’s budget will also be on the agenda at that time.
While the process may seem to be coming to a close right now, the LCAP is actually a continuous cycle of defining, measuring, analyzing, and improving. We know there is always room to grow and evolve, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration with everyone in our community who is invested in seeing our students succeed.
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.