California School News — June 2017
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CSBA To Host LCFF/LCAP Private Learning Networks

The California Collaborative for Educational Excellence has approved CSBA to host two professional learning networks focused on the significant role that board members have in the Local Control Funding Formula/Local Control and Accountability Plan development and approval process: one for small district board members and one for governance teams from medium and large school districts.

One of the key strategies of the CCEE’s LCFF Professional Development Training Implementation Plan is to create support networks based on the concept of professional learning networks, or PLNs, that are intended to build capacity and support deeper learning in interpreting, using and understanding the California School Dashboard and the LCAP as tools for continuous improvement.

“CSBA proposed two professional learning networks in order to focus on the different needs of the school districts we represent,” said Julie Maxwell-Jolly, CSBA’s director of policy and programs. “Small districts can face very different challenges in terms of resources and support than their medium and large counterparts.”

CSBA Professional Learning Networks

The principal focus of the PLNs will be on how the Dashboard and other data can help local education agencies implement and use the LCFF to design LCAPs that include equitable education strategies, monitor the extent to which these strategies are resulting in student gains and make necessary changes to these strategies as data indicate their effectiveness. They will also focus on how to help LEAs meaningfully and appropriately engage stakeholders in the LCFF/LCAP process, and ensure that these stakeholders understand the progress of the LEAs in achieving the goals outlined in their district or county office of education LCAPs. The PLNs will be active for two years and include in-person meetings in different regions and virtual meetings.

Small District Network

CSBA’s small districts PLN will consist of board members from 15 small school districts across California. It will focus on the context of small school districts and the particular challenges they face with regard to current funding, strategic planning and accountability systems. Small district challenges can include: the implications of limited staff for the development and analysis of data; providing professional development and opportunities for collaboration with other small districts (in view of greater costs of staff travel for small LEAs that are often rural and distant from neighboring districts or county offices of education); understanding and using data effectively when numbers of students in each subgroup are very small; explaining Dashboard information to their communities given that an accurate understanding of growth and status can be difficult when considering small numbers of students; and attracting and retaining staff — instructional and otherwise.

Medium/Large District Network

The second PLN will consist of board member–superintendent teams from 10 medium and large school districts across California, and will focus on helping governance teams effectively carry out their changing and growing roles and responsibilities with regard to LCFF and the LCAP process. This includes their role in developing and communicating their plan for using the Dashboard and LCAP to achieve their LEA’s vision and goals. A principal learning strategy for the PLN will be for participants to identify and share common opportunities and challenges facing districts relative to ongoing efforts to implement and utilize the LCFF, LCAPs and the Dashboard. Creating an atmosphere of mutual sharing and acceptance is particularly important for governance teams who are leaders in their districts, and who therefore may not be comfortable sharing local challenges they might have faced or are facing.

“This is definitely the largest investment [by CCEE] in professional development going forward,” said CCEE Governing Board member Sue Burr at the June board meeting. “This is a very inventive approach — California is leading the way.”

CSBA looks forward to sharing with our members updates on these PLNs as they progress throughout the next two years.