California School News — June 2017
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New Survey On LCAP Highlights School Board Member Involvement

The advent of the Local Control Funding Formula shifted responsibility in determining how education funds are used away from a centralized, top-down approach from state policymakers to one that is locally focused. District Local Control and Accountability Plans allow local education agencies to describe the school district’s overall vision for students, annual goals for all students and specific steps the district will take to achieve its vision and goals. The law also requires that LEAs describe their plans to meet the needs of several historically underserved students — low-income students, foster and homeless youth and English learners.

Engaging in LCFF is one of the major opportunities that board members have to support greater student achievement in their districts. In order to gauge the level of board member involvement in the LCAP process, CSBA conducted a survey of nearly 200 board members serving in the association’s Delegate Assembly. The DA provides a geographically representative sample of districts throughout the state, and the student demographics and enrollment size of the included districts generally reflect the characteristics of the full range of California districts.

Results of the poll indicate that board members understand the need to work with their superintendent, school staff and community members to craft a meaningful LCAP. The poll also points to some areas that can use improvement in regard to forming the LCAP. We review a few of the highlights below.

Board Member Involvement in the LCAP Process

The majority of surveyed board members contributed to key aspects of the LCAP development process and review. More than two-thirds described recommending changes to the draft LCAP, and almost two-thirds played some role in engaging the community with respect to the LCAP. These findings suggest that many school boards are engaged beyond mere approval of staff proposals. Specifically, 68 percent reported being “very involved” or “somewhat involved” in recommending modifications to the draft LCAP, and 63 percent reported being “very involved” or “somewhat involved” in engaging with the community around the LCAP.

This involvement is consistent with the findings of CSBA’s new report The School Board Role in Creating the Conditions for Achievement: A Review of the Research, which indicates that effective school boards — defined as those in districts that successfully implement policies that lead to improving student outcomes — set the district vision and goals and align the resources necessary for achieving those goals.

Board Member Request for Additional Guidance Regarding the Board Role in the LCAP

Approximately three-quarters of the board members surveyed indicated their interest in information and guidance that could help them work effectively through the LCAP on behalf of the students in their communities. In the absence of clearly defined responsibilities, there appears to be a wide range of interpretations by the superintendent and central office administration about the role of board members in each step of the process.

In fact, survey responses indicated that not all board members have been encouraged by their superintendents to be involved in the LCAP process, despite the language within the LCFF statute that refers primarily to governing boards. Only 39 percent said they were strongly encouraged to participate, and 20 percent said they were not encouraged at all. This underscores that both superintendents and boards are continuing to negotiate their roles in collaborating on the implementation of the LCFF approach and need guidance in this area.

CSBA will use the results of this poll to guide our communications with board members regarding their role in shaping the LCAP and to provide resources that clarify and support that role.

Full poll results and analysis, including how the new California School Dashboard is being used to guide LCAPs, will soon be available on the CSBA website.