HIGHLIGHTS & Commentary
Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP)
The June 6 FJUHSD board meeting welcomed summer vacation by presenting the 10th annual Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) for trustee commentary before voting to approve the plan at a scheduled June 13 board meeting.
The 84-page plan (http://www.fjuhsd.org/Page/1008) outlines how the district distributes funds to achieve state and district student success goals. The LCAP covers a majority of the projected $236,570,000 incoming state, federal and local funds but leaves out some special education spending and federally funded support services that are detailed in the Federal Addendum Plan, which is submitted with the LCAP to the Orange County Department of Education for review.
Dr. Sylvia Kaufman, Assistant Superintendent of Education and Assessment, and Steve Zamora, Director of Education, presented the LCAP reviewing the origins and development of FJUHSD’s process to create the ever-changing document. Each year the state demands format changes and additional information in the document, but the core purpose behind the LCAP never changes.
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Accountability Plan requires local stakeholder input and delineates how a taxpayer-funded public school district spends its money, how effective its programs and services are for students and their families, and identifies new concerns to redirect funds or services to address student needs for achieving success.
This year’s FJUHSD LCAP addresses student and parent-identified needs with personnel like school nurses and career guidance counselors at each school site, services and programs that include tutoring before, during, and after school, trauma-informed professional training for teachers, expanded mental health services, and finally, a personal finance component in every 12th-grade economics course.
The LCAP is unwieldy, but it provides readers with a chronicle listing strengths and challenges facing the school district, solutions implemented to address issues, and data reflecting success or failure. After many years of severely restricted budgets, the last two years of significant monetary increases and pandemic challenges allowed FJUHSD to implement a long list of solutions to address student needs. Early FJUHSD LCAPs provided a broad goal approach meshing state and district goals into student career and college readiness, a comprehensive curriculum taught by highly qualified teachers, and student and family engagement with the school district in a safe environment.
During years of tighter budgets, this broad approach worked well to determine general areas of need. Recent increases of 1x money and ongoing funds require a more focused approach with additional precision data from student outcomes to show which programs and services are being implemented to support student success. This provides stakeholders with real evidence when stricter budgets require the district to shear away costs that serve students less effectively instead of relying on administration, educators, and parental intuition.
Intuitive decisions are persuasive; they sound “correct” but are not necessarily accurate. Trustee Marilyn Buchi asked about the effectiveness of the new on-site wellness centers where students can use various supervised methods to relieve anxiety during the school day. Mr. Zamora replied that data is being collected since the centers are new.
2023/24 Initial Budget Report
Mr. Ruben Hernandez, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, followed the LCAP presentation with the initial 2023/24 school year budget report. Budget concerns revolve around 1x money allocation, which the state predicts will fall short of projected amounts with possible cuts ranging from $1.6 million to $10.6 million, which would not affect salaries or benefits.
Mr. Hernandez watched decreasing enrollment and announced that the district qualifies for an additional $5 million in LCFF concentration grant money since over 60% of the district’s student population falls under low-income, English learner, or foster youth population status. For all the deficit funding talk, the state will allocate enough additional revenue this year to trigger the Prop 98 reserve spending corollary, necessitating a district to spend down their unassigned reserves to 10% if a combination of 4 criteria is met for two consecutive years.
The district plans to apply reserve funds to offset increases in salaries and benefits to all administration, teachers, and support staff, coupled with student program implementation. The next FJUHSD Board meeting is June 13 at 6 pm.