Brown leaves out money for LCAP oversight, for now

Brown leaves out money for LCAP oversight, for now

(Calif.) As one side of the Brown administration is working feverishly to finalize a new school accountability system, another part of the governor’s team has excluded funding that may upend a critical part of evaluating how well students are performing.

The state’s 58 county offices of education are charged with making a first pass on the Local Control Accountability Plans that districts must create to explain how they are spending state education funds. But the money set aside for the counties the last two years to conduct the analysis wasn’t included in the governor’s revised May budget released last week.

“If the funding isn’t provided and there’s actually a cut in funding, those at the bottom, the lowest-funded counties, simply won’t have the resources to do the job,” said Peter Birdsall, executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association. “It seems inconsistent with the message that counties are critical to the successful implementation of the LCAPs.”

At issue is a mere $20 million that the counties received last year and the year before to pay for their role in ensuring that the districts were complying with the LCAP requirements. The overall education budget next year will likely exceed $74 billion.

H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown’s Department of Finance, said there is still an open question over the funding.

“We’re continuing to have discussions with the counties to better understand their need for additional funding for LCAP workload,” said Palmer in a statement.  “We haven’t yet been provided with any information that would justify an increase in funding for them, but we want them to succeed in their new role under the LCAP process, so we’ll continue to engage them in an effort to sort this all out.”

Palmer said that at this point it isn’t clear
“what that will amount to, in terms of any additional funding to be provided,” as the governor and Legislative leaders look to close the budget negotiations before the June 15 deadline.

In addition to the questions from the administration, earlier this year the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst pointed out that the existing funding system calls on the state to provide a minimum amount of aid to county offices, a practice that tends to exacerbate inequities between high and low income counties. Under the system, counties with escalating real estate values get a significant share of the property tax as well as the minimum allotment from the state.

The LAO suggested that the Legislature eliminate the minimum funding provision over three years.

There is also a chance that Gov. Jerry Brown might want to use federal Title I money for the LCAP review process—a resource that states have more flexibility in using under the new Every Student Succeeds Act.

The LCAP came into existence with adoption of the Local Control Funding Formula in 2012 that gave local school boards more control over education spending. The LCFF promised additional state support to target low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

In exchange for the additional money, districts are required to develop the LCAPs, which are documents built with input from the community, showing how the money was used to help the targeted students.

The California State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by Brown, have been working for more than two years on a matrix of performance indicators that well beyond test scores for evaluating school and student performance. A web-based delivery vehicle for school and district grades–called the California Accountability Dashboard–was introduced just this spring to the public.

The LCAPs and the county offices’ role in overseeing them is a critical part of the overall accountability system because each of the indicators included in the Dashboard are also required to be included in the LCAPs.