Lodi Unified School District has begun seeking community input on how students can be best served now that local education agencies will be funded differently.
District officials held two meetings this week discussing the new Local Control Funding Formula, which was introduced in California’s 2013-14 budget.
Under this new formula, the State of California will now fund school districts, charter schools and county offices of education equally per student, based on grade level and demographics.
The state had previously used a nearly 40-year-old system that involved revenue limits and more than 50 categorical programs to provide funding to local education agencies, according to the California Department of Education.
The state’s 2013-14 budget provides $2.1 billion for school districts and charter schools across the state, and $32 million for county offices of education to support the first year of the LCFF.
The formula would provide a base grant for each local education agency — such as LUSD — equal to $7,643 per average daily attendance. Actual base grants will be based on grade level. The higher the grade level, the higher the grant.
For example, the base grant for a district would be $6,845 per average daily attendance in grades K-3, $6,947 for grades 4-6, $7,154 for grades 7-8 and $8,289 for grades 9-12, according to the Department of Education.
According to Tim Hern, the district’s chief business officer, if the LCFF was fully implemented today, the district could receive nearly $258 million in funding.
However, Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer, Lodi Unified’s superintendent, said Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to have the LCFF fully implemented in about eight years.
Last year, the district received $170.8 million in funding through the previous revenue limit system, Hern said. The total 2013 entitlement the district will receive is $181 million.
Nichols-Washer said that while the amount the district receives is crucial to its upcoming budget, the plan for using the projected dollars is more important.
“We need to determine what we expect to spend any allocated money on,” she said at a Thursday night community meeting at the district office. She said that the district opted to seek community input to determine which programs and services area residents deem important.
“Not only does this new funding formula require community input,” she said, “but our own board of education made it clear to (district administrators) that they want to hear what the community’s thoughts are.”
District officials asked those in attendance Thursday night, just eight parents and community members, to suggest what skills or abilities they’d like Lodi Unified students to have by the time they graduate.
In addition, guests were asked to propose what programs or services may help students and the district achieve those goals.
Those in attendance said they’d like to see more language immersion classes, or a focus on technological, communication and organizational skills.
Programs and services suggested to help students with those skills included Regional Occupational Programs, summer school, personal finance programs, and more informational technology courses. In addition, many said students’ curriculum should be more fun, as that would help them learn and absorb more information.
Suggestions will be compiled into a document the district will use to create a plan for spending funds received from the LCFF in the future.
The district is planning more community meetings in the months ahead, as Nichols-Washer said a plan must be developed before a budget can be approved this summer.
For more information on the LCFF, visit www.cde.ca.gov/fg/ aa/lc/lcffoverview.asp. For updates on community meetings held by the district, visit www.lodiusd. net.