Editor's note: Wake-up call
Let’s get one thing straight right from the top: Redwood City Unified board member Dennis McBride is an intelligent, well-adjusted, distinguished-looking gentleman who could probably run circles around me.
He is not, nor has he ever been, “fat, happy and dumb.” That’s just how he described himself to make a point when talking with California Schools staff writer Carol Brydolf. McBride had just gotten a wake-up call in the form of a regional briefing from CSBA on the Local Control Funding Formula.
“I thought we had plenty of time,” McBride told Carol. “What I heard was that the LCFF isn’t coming. … It’s here now.”
He’s absolutely right, as Carol explains in “3, 2, 1 … Lift Off!”, ably assisted by her colleagues here at CSBA and McBride and others she spoke to in Sacramento and around the state. The K-12 community everywhere is grappling with the details of the new school funding formula—the money, the obligations and the timelines involved.
Teri Burns is one of those K-12 community members. As a trustee of the Natomas Unified School District here in Sacramento, she knows what the challenge looks like at the local level—but she’s also seen the details develop from the inside, as a senior director in CSBA’s Policy and Programs Department who regularly works with the California Department of Education and the State Board of Education.
“I can’t emphasize enough how crucial it is for governance teams to begin planning for [LCFF implementation] immediately,” Burns told Carol. “You cannot afford to wait for the state to tell you what to do. You have to start planning your public outreach, adjusting your budgets, setting local priorities and familiarizing yourself with what we do know about the LCFF so far.”
Jo Lucey also enjoys a unique perspective on the funding formula and the challenges it poses to governance teams. She’s dealing with it as a board member in the Cupertino Union School District, and she speaks about it with authority as a member of CSBA’s Executive Committee; she’ll soon succeed Cindy Marks as president.
“I think [LCFF’s] premise is good. Some children need more resources—you just can’t adequately support them academically without extra funding. So I believe in the theory,” Lucey told me in “A Conversation with … Jo Lucey”. “I continue to believe the base is too low. It’s higher than what was originally proposed, but I really think it needs to be even higher so that every district at least has a base amount that enables them to do the job well.”
Dennis Meyers, CSBA’s assistant executive director for Governmental Relations, was in the forefront of the effort to increase the base and the fiscal targets for LCFF’s full implementation in the 2020-21 school year.
“CSBA supported the LCFF proposal and pursued significant improvements to it,” Meyers recounts in “Did Your Legislator Stand Up for Public Education?”. “CSBA’s efforts to convince the governor and Legislature to restore funding to pre-recession levels, create LCFF grants with grade-level differentiation, and focus all career technical education funds as an add-on to the grade 9-12 base grant were all adopted.”
Meyers’ report precedes a tabulation of each state Senate and Assembly member’s vote on key education issues; we think of it as CSBA’s second annual legislative report card. As Meyers urges, “Readers can use this data to review their legislators’ records on bills that will affect local school boards’ work in the year ahead.”
We hope you will and, as always, I thank you for reading!
Brian Taylor (email@example.com) is the managing editor of California Schools.