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California School Fiscal Services

Providing comprehensive business office and consulting services to K-12 traditional schools and charters

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School and Pension Costs in California: What Can Be Done?

Posted on April 5, 2019 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (95669)

A great breakdown of the current crisis in California school pension costs.

http://edsource.org/2019/school-and-pension-costs-in-california-what-can-be-done/610472

The Oakland Teacher's Strike Revealed California's Education Crisis

Posted on March 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (5180)

We've been talking about fair funding for education for a very long time now.  This is a good read to that end. 

http://www.thenation.com/article/the-oakland-teachers-strike-revealed-californias-education-crisis/

California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Eastern Section's Annual Conference 2.0!

Posted on September 11, 2017 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (952)

Registration is now open for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) Eastern Section's Annual Conference 2.0!

This year's annual event will be held at the Riverside County Office of Education on Monday, September 25, 2017. This half-day professional development event offers a variety of break-out sessions, with an opportunity to meet and greet vendors, win exciting raffle prizes from sponsored vendors, and one lucky attendee will even win a complimentary 2018 Annual Conference registration from CASBO!

Attendance to this event qualifies for 3.5 hours of CASBO Continuing Education credit as well!

You may choose from any of the following great sessions upon registration:

Child Nutrition:

§ "Do you think you're SACSy?" (1 Hour Session)

Presenter: Jennifer Marrone, Business Manager, Food & Nutrition Services, San Diego USD

§ "Child Nutrition Procurement, Implementing Buy America Procedures" (1 Hour Session)

Presenter: Bob Quanstrom, Director, Nutrition Services, Val Verde USD

Finance:

§ "Night of the Living LCAP" (2 Hours Session)

Panelists: Thomas Cassida, Director of Business Advisory Services, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Veronica Calderon, GA Generalist II, Lewis Center for Educational Research

Jeffrey Hinshaw, Director of Fiscal Services, Alvord USD

Jesus Holguin, Fiscal Analyst II, San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools

Human Resource:

§ "Telling Your Story with Generational Preferences in Mind" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Dr. Suzette Lovely, Former Superintendent, Carlsbad USD

Payroll:

§ "Keeping up with Wage & Hour Law" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Todd Robins, Partner, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo

Technology:

§ "E-Rate" (2 Hours Session)

Presenter: Paula Prieto, Administrator I, Information Technology Services, Riverside COE with CSM Consulting

This year, our keynote luncheon speaker Dr. Martinrex Kedziora, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools, Moreno Valley Unified School District, will be talk on "Professional Development & Growth Opportunities".

Registration includes continental breakfast and lunch. Attached are the Annual Conference 2.0 event flyer, RCOE location map, and RCOE parking information.

Online registration is now open at https://www.casbo.org/event/eastern-section-annual-conference-20 and closes on Monday, September 18, 2017.

2016 Special Education Report

Posted on April 23, 2017 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (2330)

An excellent report on special education excellence in California Charter Schools.  

Everyone can learn something from reading this report.  Carve out a few minutes and add it to your "to do" list.


http://www.ccsa.org/2016-Special-Education-Report.pdf


Send special ed funding directly to districts, not regional agencies, report says

Posted on November 29, 2016 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (1686)
Wouldn't that be something if Brown actually followed through with this recommendation.  This will be interesting to watch as it unfolds.

----------------------------------------------------

The state should dismantle its system for distributing special education funding for California’s 718,000 students with disabilities and send the money – billions of dollars – directly to local school districts, according to a much anticipated report that’s expected to draw the attention of Gov. Jerry Brown and state education leaders.

 

The recommendations, made by researchers at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California and released Tuesday, would upend the way special education finance has worked in the state for nearly 40 years and potentially put out of business 133 regional special education agencies known as Special Education Local Plan Areas, or SELPAs.

 

State money for special education would be folded into the Local Control Funding Formula, completing Brown’s goal of creating a unified funding system for all children. Funding earmarked for students with disabilities would continue to be spent for general special education, but districts would have “no firm restrictions on use,” the report recommended. Districts would have more flexibility to respond to individual needs earlier, before formally designating students as having disabilities.

 

“We recognize some may find this option threatening,” said the PPIC report’s authors, led by Laura Hill and Paul Warren. “Nevertheless, we view it as a critical step towards a more integrated system of special and general education.”

 

If Brown and the Legislature were to adopt the recommendations, school districts would face new challenges to ensure students are properly identified as needing services, provide the necessary services, and report data on the demographics of students in special education to state and federal governments.

 

State Board of Education President Michael Kirst called the recommendations “bold and provocative.” He is to participate in a panel discussion on the proposal at noon Tuesday at PPIC’s Sacramento office.

 

Special education has long been an island in education. Because of financing complexities and federal and state special education mandates, Brown left special education out of the Local Control Funding Formula law in 2013. The $12 billion special education budget in California in 2014-15 – a mix of district, state and federal funds – inadequately served students, according to the final report of the Statewide Task Force on Special Education this past year.

 

The rights of students with special needs and their families are dictated by complex federal laws. And the academic performance of students – the majority of whom are not intellectually impaired but must overcome speech and language disorders or learning disabilities – lags their peers. The Statewide Task Force on Special Education issued a call for training teachers to co-teach with special education teachers to meet the needs of many students in one classroom.

 

The task force cited the same major financing problems that the PPIC report identified.

 

Inequitable funding: SELPAs are funded based on outdated 20-year-old formulas. There are wide disparities, with the top fifth of SELPAs getting 40 percent more funding per student than the bottom fifth.

 

Inadequate funding: In order to discourage overidentifying students with disabilities, SELPAs are funded based on districts’ overall student enrollment, not the percentage of special education students – a formula PPIC wouldn’t change. However, Brown has put more money into the Local Control Funding Formula and kept special education funding flat over the past decade, PPIC said. And funding has not responded to the increase in students with severe disabilities, such as autism.

 

PPIC estimated that raising per-student funding to the level of better-funded SELPAs and addressing higher costs generated by rising caseloads would cost between $670 million and $1.1 billion annually.

 

Poor accountability: “California does not hold SELPAs accountable for student success in any formal way,” PPIC wrote. The state doesn’t set performance goals for special education, and SELPAs aren’t required to track student performance, the report said. Each SELPA has its own formula for distributing state and federal funding. “We were unable to find budget and administrative plans on the internet for more than half of the state’s multidistrict SELPAs,” the report said.

 

Districts would be held more accountable by incorporating special education into school districts’ three-year spending documents, known as Local Control and Accountability Plans, the report said. Districts would be asked to set goals and chart the progress of students receiving special education services. Parents would be better able to share their perspectives, the report said.

 

The task force did not recommend the demise of SELPAs. In a paper last month, the task force’s co-executive directors, Vicki Barber, former director of the El Dorado County SELPA, and Maureen O’Leary Burness, former director of four different Northern California SELPAs, suggested that fixing the current system would be the preferable option.

 

“Troubling issues would have to be addressed to avoid unintended consequences” of moving toward direct district funding, Barber said in an interview Monday. She said SELPAs negotiate contracts for services, spread the costs of serving students with very expensive needs, and provide expertise and administrative services. Most of the state’s districts have fewer than 2,500 students and would struggle to provide these functions on their own, she said.

 

PPIC said the possible roles of SELPAs, without directly funding them in the future, would need to be redefined and clarified. Under the new approach, districts presumably could choose to keep funding reconstituted SELPAs for some functions, create new multidistrict agreements or contract services with providers of their choice.

 

Kirst had encouraged PPIC to do the study, which was funded by the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation and the Stuart Foundation.

 

Cid Van Koersel, program director for WarmLine Family Resource Center in Sacramento, a federally funded parent training and information center for special education, said parents don’t know much about how special education is financed.

 

“Ninety percent of the time, families have never heard the word ‘SELPA,’” Van Koersel said. But she said they do know the services they want and need, and she wondered what would happen if the SELPA funding system disappeared. The local planning areas fund programs through county offices of education, she said, including programs for students who live in districts that are too small to provide services.

 

“What about the SELPA-run preschool for children with autism?” Van Koersel asked. “Who is going to provide that program?”


Your Cheat Sheet for the Proposed ESSA Accountability Rules

Posted on June 8, 2016 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (15)
Remember, the best CBOs understand the major issues and pressures of the educational side of the house.  It is very important that we maintain a firm understanding of accountability under ESSA and how that will trickle down to CDE and then us.  These decisions will greatly impact our allocation of resources so we had better have a clear picture of these influences on our respective districts and charters.

This article does a great job of interpreting ESSA in easy to understand language.  Who doesn't love a good cheat sheet!  This is a good one to print out and save.  Believe me when I say these issues will keep coming up in your world.

----------------------------

By Andrew Ujifusa and Alyson Klein

 

It's been close to two weeks since the U.S. Department of Education released proposed regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act that would govern school accountability. We've touched on several high-profile issues in the draft rules since they were made public, including their requirement for a single overall rating for schools and the tricky shift to ESSA that some schools might face in 2016-17.

 

But below, you can find several of the most important issues in a straightforward, "cheat sheet" format. We've organized the material into three categories:

 

• What ESSA says about the issue in statutory language;

 

• How the proposed ESSA regulations would handle the issue, and;

 

• Some of the reaction to the proposed regulations. (We included this where it was relevant—not every area has gotten serious pushback or praise at this early stage.)

 

Let us know if you think we've missed any major issues in the comments section, or email us at [email protected], or [email protected] You have until Aug. 1 to submit your comments to the department about these proposed rules. They're expected to be finalized at some point after that later this year.

 

Overall School Rating

 

• What ESSA Says: ESSA does not explicitly require states to apply an overall rating to each school in their accountability plans.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: The regulations require a "summative" rating for each school. States have to have at least three categories of summative ratings. The rating can take the form of a number (say on a scale of 1 to 100), an A through F grade, or it could just be a category (say, "needs improvement", "satisfactory", or "excellent.") Plus, states need to make publicly available any data that informs the overall summative rating. If schools are calculating the rating based on growth, achievement, and school climate, for example, they need to publish that data for parents, alongside the overall score.

 

• The Reaction: Supporters of such a comprehensive rating for schools say the proposal is consistent with the intent of ESSA to provide clear information to educators, parents, and others. Some, however, are concerned that it could undermine alternative methods of school accountability, such as "dashboards" that provide information about various indicators, but don't place a single rating on schools.

 

Test Participation

 

• What ESSA Says: States are still required to test all students annually in English/language arts and math in grades 3-8 and once in high school. But states are allowed to set consequences for schools that don't meet the 95 percent participation threshold. States could also have laws explicitly allowing parents to opt their children out of tests.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: States must choose one of three sanctions for schools that miss the threshold, such as giving schools the lowest rating on their academic achievement indicators or knocking down their overall ratings. Or else states can submit their own plans for dealing with test-participation problems.

 

• The Reaction: Fans of annual standardized tests say the proposal is appropriate and highlights how important these tests are. However, those friendly to the testing opt-out movement argue the plan is too prescriptive and that states would not get the flexibility they think the law contains when it comes to dealing with high opt-out rates. (If you're thinking the legal environment for opt-out seems complicated or unclear right now, you're not alone.) AFT President Randi Weingarten is among those critical of the proposed rules here, saying they're too punitive.

 

Accountability Indicators

 

• What ESSA Says: States must create an accountability system that relies on both academic indicators like test scores, graduation rates, and English-language proficiency, plus at least one indicator of school quality or student success, which could be teacher engagement, student engagmement, school climate, or anything else the state cooks up that's subject to federal approval of their accountability plans. Each of these indicators must carry "substantial" weight. And the academic indicators, as a group, must be given a weight "much greater" than the school-quality or student-success indicator.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: The proposed regulations don't define what "much greater" means or give any sense of what would be an appropriate weight for each indicator. They do say, however, that the academic indicators need to give equal weight to math and reading. And they say that the school-quality indicator should be something that research shows will contribute to student achievement or boost graduation rates. (There's research to back up indicators like access to the arts, or science and social studies classes, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. said in a recent interview with Education Week.)

 

Also, the school-quality indicator should be something that shows real differentiation from one school to another. For example, the department is discouraging states from using average daily attendance; it says there's simply not enough variation from school to school, which means it's harder to tell which schools need closer attention and support. Also, importantly, just as with the summative rating, states need to come up with at least three performance levels for each indicator. That means if a state picks, say, teacher engagement, it needs to figure out what it means for a school to have at least high, low, and medium teacher engagement. (States could come up with more than three levels, if they want.)

 

•The Reaction: Mike Petrilli, of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, thinks the department is attaching too many strings to the school quality indicator. Check out his post here.

 

Subgroups of Students and 'N' Sizes

 

• What ESSA Says: States need to consider the performance of each subgroup of students (that's English-language learners, racial minorities, students in special education, and disadvantaged kids) seperately, no combining of subgroups into "super subgroups." Also, states need to set an "n" size, meaning the minimum number of students in a particular group that a school must have in order for that group to count for accountability purposes. The state gets to pick the "n" size it wants—the department doesn't get to require any particular number. (The thinking behind an "n" size: If a school of 5,000 students only has one English-language learner, it might violate that student's privacy to report the data separately from everyone else's.)

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: The regulations make it crystal clear that super subgroups that combine different groups of students for accountability purposes are prohibited. That's not new, but it shows the department is serious about this issue, even though it allowed super subgroups in waivers from the previous version of the law, No Child Left Behind. The department says that states that want an "n" size of more than 30 had better be able to justify it. (Under NCLB, state "n" sizes ranged from as small as five to as large as 50. Thirty was about average. More on page 40 of this report.)

 

• The Reaction: So far, not much on this. But we'll keep our ears open.

 

Consistently Underperforming Groups of Students

 

• What ESSA Says: States have to identify schools where certain subgroups of students (say, English-language learners or students in special education) are "consistently underperforming." Those schools are supposed to get "targeted support" under ESSA, which means the school comes up with a plan to fix the problem and the district has to monitor its efforts. If the school doesn't get any better after a certain number of years—determined by the district—the district steps in and takes over the turnaround.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: The proposed rules leave it up to states to decide what "consistently underperforming" means. But these state defintions must incorporate at least one of the following criteria: a) whether the subgroup is on track to meet the state's long-term goals, b) whether the subgroup is performing at the lowest level on any one of the state's academic indicators, c) whether the subgroup is at or below a certain level of performance, compared to the rest of state, d) whether the subgroup is performing way below the state average, or the average of the highest performing subgroup in the state, or e) another factor that the state comes up with.

 

Also, under the regulations, a state is supposed to consider a school as having "chronically underperforming" subgroups of students and step in and fix the problem if the subgroup's performance isn't getting any better after three years.

 

• The Reaction: While the proposed regulatory language seems to jibe with ESSA's statutory language that the term shall be "determined by the State," the Education Trust, a civil rights advocacy group, has argued that the options available to states are too loose, and would allow many states to downplay the performance of struggling students.

 

Turnaround and Intervention Plans

 

• What ESSA Says: There are basically two big buckets of schools to know about here. Schools in "comprehensive support" fall into the bottom 5 percent of performers, high schools where less than 67 percent of students graduate, and those where a particular subgroup of students is performing really poorly, as poorly as kids in schools in the bottom 5 percent of performers in the state. And then there are the schools in "targeted support," are those where a particular subgroup of students is struggling.

 

For schools in comprehensive support, districts come up with an evidence-based plan to fix the problem, monitored by the state. For schools in targeted support, schools must come up with an evidence-based plan to fix the problem, monitored by the district.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: States need to let parents know if their child's school has been identified for "targeted" or "comprehensive" support. And the state should try very hard to come up with evidence-based interventions that meet the most-rigorous evidence standards. If states want to, they can even come up with a list of preapproved strategies for districts to try.

 

Also, for schools in targeted support, districts should consider whether the school (or even certain populations within the school) are getting access to a fair share of resources, including money and good teachers. Districts also must establish "exit criteria" for when a school no longer needs to be in targeted support (for instance, the students in whatever subgroup was struggling are now performing much better).

 

• The Reaction: So far, not much on this. We'll update this post if we hear more.

 

Identifying Schools for Interventions

 

• What ESSA Says: States are supposed to build an "index" for measuring school performance that includes student achievement, graduation rates, English-language proficiency, and another academic factor (which could be growth on tests). Plus, they have to include another indicator that gets at school quality or students' opportunity to learn (something like school climate, success in advanced coursework, teacher engagement). Schools that perform really badly on these indicators and are found to be in the bottom 5 percent of performers are identified for "comprehensive suppport." Those where a particular subgroup of students are performing poorly are identified for "targeted support."

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: States can't get off the "comprehensive improvement" list just because they have made progress on the school quality indicator—they have to also make progress on an academic indicator. So that means, for instance, that a school with really low math and reading scores that's been able to help fix poor teacher engagement can't get out of improvement status until its math and reading scores get better.

 

• The Reaction: Not a whole lot that we've seen so far, although Petrilli's earlier criticisms about the overall importance school quality indicator can also apply here.

 

Timelines and Deadlines

 

• What ESSA Says: The U.S. Department of Education approves state accountability plans that will begin in the 2017-18 school year. Waivers from the mandates of the previous version of the law, the No Child Left Behind Act, expire on July 1 of this year. The 2016-17 school year is a transition time between the two systems.

 

• What the Draft Rules Say: There are two deadlines to submit these plans, one in March 2017, and the other in July 2017. Although the plans would start in 2017-18, schools with high drop-out rates or schools in the bottom 5 percent of performers must be identified as needing "comprehensive support" based on their 2016-17 outcomes. (Districts with schools in "comprehensive support" need to come up with a plan to fix the problem, which the state is supposed to monitor. If the school doesn't get better after a period of time set by the state—no more than four years—the state has to step in and try a more serious intervention.)

 

• The Reaction: The deadlines may not be easy to deal with, thanks to the presidential transition. The March deadline will be very soon after a new administration takes over. And the July deadline is very close to the 2017-18 academic year. But moving up the deadlines might cut into states' development time for the plans. And the required use of 2016-17 academic data for some school-improvement decisions worries some who say schools would be working in a sort of accountability limbo.


Study: Funding, leadership key to pre-K and early school years alignment

Posted on June 2, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (6)

How much do you know about preschool?  This is such an interesting study that found that one of the keys to success is a knowledgeable administration.  


Preschool is very different than K-12 education and it will take some time and effort to understand the program - and how it fits into our larger fiscal picture.  Be sure to spend the time to become that knowledgeable administrator.  Your students will thank you for it!

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By Jeremy Hay | May 31, 2016 

 

LIV AMES FOR EDSOURCE

More funding is needed to achieve greater curriculum alignment between preschool and the early school years, so that what students learn in kindergarten through 3rd grade builds on what they learned in preschool, a new study says.

 

Strong leadership by district officials knowledgeable about quality preschool education is another key to making alignment work, said the study by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), a nonpartisan research group based at Stanford University, UC Davis and the University of Southern California.

 

Preschool has increasingly come to be viewed as an essential component of an effective education, particularly for lower-income children; that has spurred widespread discussion about the need to align preschool curricula with that of kindergarten and beyond. But consensus on how to define and establish alignment hasn’t been reached.

 

“That came through loud and clear; funding for pre-K is the poor stepsister,” said Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University education professor and one of the report’s authors.

An array of California educators whom researchers interviewed for the study – titled “PreK-3 Alignment in California’s Education System: Obstacles and Opportunities” – described alignment as “a continuum” and “having shared goals and expectations across grades.” The teachers and school officials interviewed said that requires:

 

Communication among teachers and across grades;

Professional development and training that brings teachers at different grade levels together;

Strong leadership committed to preK-3 alignment;

Funding and teacher credentialing parity between preschool and elementary school.

“That came through loud and clear; funding for pre-K is the poor stepsister,” said Deborah Stipek, a Stanford University education professor and one of the report’s authors. Because less advanced credentials are required of preschool teachers, they are paid less, which leads to greater turnover and, often, lower quality, Stipek and the report said. Those factors make it harder to create and maintain a system of alignment between preschool and elementary school, she said.

 

Preschool teachers also have less available time for professional development, despite greater demands and expectations being placed on them, because, unlike K-12 teachers, they rarely get paid time off for that purpose, and it is harder for them to afford it on their own time. In general, the report says, preschool teachers enjoy less professional respect and have less training. That disconnect means preschool teachers are often left out of efforts to establish continuity in learning between pre-K and elementary school.

 

Alignment – or the lack of it – can have major impacts, Stipek said.

 

Done right, she said, it can counter what is known as fade out, the phenomenon observed by some researchers – and disputed by others – in which lower-income preschoolers’ early academic advantages start to diminish until by 3rd grade they have no advantage over children who didn’t attend preschool.

 

What’s happening in those cases, said Stipek, is this: “If you’ve benefited from pre-K and, let’s say, learned a lot of math, and then you go to kindergarten and repeat everything you’ve learned, you’re not learning anything. So it’s not really fade out, it’s catch up” on the part of other students. “If preschool students are repeating what they already know (when they get to kindergarten), they’re not advancing.”

 

Proper alignment between preschool and K-3 grades could remedy that, she said.

 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget for early education – he has proposed combining state preschool and transitional kindergarten funding into a single block grant, which early education advocates oppose – includes changes that would strengthen alignment, says the study. The study does not take a position on the budget proposal, which calls specifically for “regional early learning plans” to improve alignment of pre-kindergarten and K-12 programs.

 

“It won’t happen by itself and it won’t happen as a consequence of someone in Sacramento telling someone to get along better – it really does require someone at the local level saying, ‘You’ve got to work together,’” said David Plank, PACE executive director.

“What we really need are assessment tools and curriculum that is aligned through preschool and those early grades,” Stipek said. “We just have to recognize that pre-K is the new kindergarten and so the expectations are higher and we haven’t upgraded our training and support systems … to reflect those increased demands.”

 

Also, the report says, alignment should take into account preschool’s focus on social and emotional growth, and ensure a continued emphasis in those areas in early elementary grades.

How To Build A Bridge From Pre-Kindergarten To Third Grade

 

The study highlights the Fresno and Long Beach school districts as having “noteworthy practices” in early childhood education and alignment. Both districts have effectively included preschool teachers and child care staff in professional development sessions with elementary school teachers, the report says.

 

One hindrance to alignment, said David Plank, PACE’s executive director, is “the internal fragmentation of the pre-K space, how many discrete actors and funding streams are simultaneously in action for young children in California.”

 

That can make it hard to unite around a common alignment agenda, Plank said, an obstacle that requires strong local leadership to overcome.

 

“The fact that (preschool and K-12) are very different systems and effectively very independent systems means that bringing them into closer alignment is a challenge that policy can’t overcome,” he said.

 

“It won’t happen by itself and it won’t happen as a consequence of someone in Sacramento telling someone to get along better – it really does require someone at the local level saying, ‘You’ve got to work together,’” Plank said.

Should California use early education funding for all, or only the needy?

Posted on June 1, 2016 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (33)
Governor Brown's recently proposed change to TK funding has sparked a considerable debate.  How exactly this will impact school district funding for preschool aged students going forward will dramatically change for some districts.  

This is a debate we should all  follow closely.  Governor Brown has stated that it is unlikely he will change his mind.  It will be interesting to see what happens in the final state budget.  
 ----------------------------------------

Deepa Fernandes 

Transitional kindergarten students take part in the City of Fullerton's Playgrounds on the Go! program at the Richman School in the Fullerton School District on Tuesday morning, May 24, 2016. The program is one of the four original transitional kindergarten programs in the district.

When then-state senator Joe Simitian spearheaded an initiative to move the kindergarten birthday cutoff date from December to September in 2010, he wanted to make sure that the 4-year-old kids who would be excluded from starting that year wouldn't languish.

 

That's why he drove the creation of transitional kindergarten, or TK, a new public school grade for children born in the months between September and December, to get them ready for school.

 

“We used to think of kindergarten as the ‘get ready year for real school,’ but these days kindergarten is real school. There are academic standards for kindergarten,” Simitian said. “So TK has become that 'get ready' year and it’s just doing a great job.”

 

Now a Santa Clara County Supervisor, Simitian is one of a number of TK supporters protesting Governor Jerry Brown's new plan to eliminate the program and pour its funding into a larger pot to pay for pre-school for low-income children.

 

Currently, the state spends roughly $700 million a year on TK – but Brown has eliminated it from his proposed budget for the coming fiscal year. The future of TK will be decided in budget negotiations between the governor and legislators, who have put forth plans to keep TK.

 

Brown said his goal is to concentrate early childhood funding on the state's neediest children, who still don't have enough access to Pre-K programs. In Los Angeles County alone, only 41 percent of preschool-age children have access to a licensed childcare spot, and shortages are far worse in low-income neighborhoods. And L.A. is facing the loss of an additional 11,000 seats in June when funding for Los Angeles Universal Preschool expires.

 

“We have limited resources for early education,” said Jessica Holmes, a finance budget analyst for the California Department of Finance. “This focuses our limited funds on children who need it the most who are low income and at risk.”

 

The governor's plan would collapse all of the various funding streams that currently pay for different early childhood programs, including infant and toddler care, state preschool and transitional kindergarten. The money would be distributed to school districts, who could spend the funds as they choose, as long as they serve low-income children.

 

Advocates like Simitian said the proposal could end up hurting needy children by removing one access point and by making the funds that pay for their education more vulnerable to economic ups and downs and changing political tides.

 

"The funding stream that actually serves these kids would suddenly become a much weaker one," said Kim Pattillo Brownson, managing director of policy at advocacy group the Advancement Project.

 

The Brown administration argues that, even if TK is successfully preparing 4-year-olds for kindergarten, the state shouldn't be spending public funds on educating middle- and upper-income young children whose parents can afford care.

 

That's a view shared by Michael Kirst, president of the state Board of Education.

 

“I don’t think we have the money at this stage to pay for early childhood education for all income groups," he said. "Does the state have the responsibility to pay for children’s education from zero on or one year on for people living in Bel Air and Beverly Hills?"

 

The state doesn't keep records of TK enrollment, and so it's unclear how many low-, middle- and upper-income children currently attend the program.

 

But under the governor's plan, districts with few low-income children, like Beverly Hills, will retain the same amount of funding that they are currently receiving for their TK programs, which is apportioned based on the total number of 4-year-olds in the district.

 

Theoretically, school districts could choose to keep TK for low-income 4-year-olds, since Brown's plan gives them freedom on how to use the grant.

 

But that's not a given and some educators fear parents will be forced to either send their children to another year of preschool – without the added educational value that research has shown TK provides – or worse, sit out of school for the year altogether. They worry thousands of young students won't be ready to enter increasingly rigorous kindergarten programs.

 

"[For] the teachers, it would be very very difficult ... to take that step backwards again, to having these children that are just not socially emotionally ready for the rigors of what kindergarten expectations are nowadays," said Estella Grimm, principal of Richman Elementary School in the Fullerton School District,

 

Pattillo Brownson of the Advancement Project said the governor's proposal also has the potential to hurt early education programs because state funding for early childhood programs is not protected – it can be slashed in tough budget years.

 

TK funding, in contrast, has been part of public education budgets, which are protected, she explained.

 

More than 100 groups, including school districts, civil rights organizations, labor unions and even some business groups have joined a coalition calling to retain TK.

 

On Tuesday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance voted unanimously to support a $619 million early education plan that would preserve TK as it is currently structured and add 16,000 new early education slots – a plan that Speaker Anthony Rendon, a former early childhood administrator, has thrown his support behind.

 

The fight over the future of TK will now proceed primarily behind closed doors in Sacramento, as lawmakers and the governor hash out their competing plans. The Legislature has until June 15 to put forth a final budget package.

 

As the policy and budget fights play out, teachers are wrapping up the fourth year of transitional kindergarten.

 

In Fullerton, Richman Elementary TK teacher Eva Aerreola has started taking down the artwork and projects from her classroom walls.

 

She’s satisfied that her students have excelled this year. She said she's especially happy “seeing students that haven’t had any preschool background, they’re English learners, coming in not knowing one letter or anything, and just exiting out of the program having [that] knowledge.”

 

Her kids are ready for kindergarten, she said proudly. As to whether she will still be teaching TK two years from now, Aerreola shrugged.

 

“I hope so,” she said.


SCHOOLS: No pay for play uniforms and equipment

Posted on May 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (626)

Happy Friday!


Here is a great summary and Q and A regarding charging fees to parents.  This has been a source of confusion for a long time now with some districts entrenched in old habits that are no longer appropriate.  So, check it out and see if your polices need some updating.  

Enjoy your weekend

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The Press Enterprise

BY CRAIG SHULTZ / STAFF WRITER

PAY AND PLAY QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Q. May a school charge students for elective classes or extracurricular activities?

 

A. No. It does not matter if the class or activity is compulsory or elective.


 

Q. May a school charge fees only to those students who can afford them and offer waivers for those who can't?

 

A. No. A waiver process based on financial need or inability to pay does not make an otherwise impermissible fee permissible.


 

Q. Are there any fees that a school may charge?

 

A. Some specific fees, charges and deposits are legally permissible. For example, schools may charge for optional attendance as a spectator at a school or district-sponsored activity, food served to students and the cost of replacing school books or supplies loaned to a student that the student fails to return or willfully damages.


 

Q. May a school request and receive donations from parents and guardians?

 

A. Yes. The key point is that the donations must be truly voluntary. A student's participation in a class, program or activity cannot be conditioned upon receipt of a "donation."

 

source: American Civil Liberties Union

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There was a time when participating in extracurricular activities came with a price tag for students. Athletes had to purchase “spirit packs” and members of the band paid annual fees for uniforms and travel. And while the money was often considered a “donation,” it was understood if you want to play, you had to pay.

Not any more.

“If it’s going to be used in a contest, we have to pay for it,” said longtime San Jacinto High Athletic Director Jeff Snyder.

Things changed after the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state in 2010, alleging that school districts illegally charged fees for educational activities and materials in violation of the right to a free and equal public education in California. As part of the settlement, a bill enacted in 2012 ensures public school students are not charged as a condition of participating in educational activities.

Now schools are adjusting, but there are challenges. After all, uniforms and equipment are not getting any cheaper.

There are still traditional fundraisers, such as car washes and sales of magazines and others items, and parents and others may still donate, but they cannot be forced to. And money can longer go to an individual student’s account, only to an entire program.

That means more money must come from school budgets.

Lake Elsinore Unified School District spokesman Mark Dennis said there are no specific uniform allocations for their three high schools. The district provides money to each campus for activities, “but it is up to the site to purchase sports uniforms to meet the needs of the athletic program and student participants,” he wrote in an email.

And it’s not just sports that are affected. All activities must be free for public school students.

Jerry Burdick-Rutz, band director at Great Oak High in Temecula, said parents are still helping fill funding gaps in his program.

“Prior to and after the ACLU ruling I have found the parents and school district to be supportive of the students, and the music programs,” he said. “Especially when our tax dollars fall short of the program needs, the parents are there to help support items such as instruments, uniforms, coaching, music and transportation.”

The change has impacted some areas more than others. The massive Los Angeles Unified School District, for example, earlier this month agreed to spend $9 million over the next three years to provide student-athletes with team uniforms in all sports across its 83 high schools.

Daryl Strickland, a spokesman for LAUSD, said individual schools may have a voluntary donation program to purchase customized jerseys, pay for tournaments or purchase additional spirit gear, but none of these are required for participation on the team.

“All of our athletic programs have been instructed that there can be no mandatory fees for participation,” he said. “However, many schools did not have uniforms to issue to the student athletes.”

Snyder said teams will use sporting uniforms longer. When new togs are needed, they go to the varsity, with older uniforms being handed down to junior varsity and freshmen teams. Which brings up another issue.

“If you’re going to keep them longer, you have to have a little better quality,” which often costs more, Snyder said.

The ACLU lawsuit followed an investigation by the organization that found what it called widespread practices among school districts of charging students for materials for academic courses and after-school activities. The suit contended that charging for educational essentials discriminates against lower-income children, resulting in an unfair system.

Snyder said students can still pay for additional items. For example, if a cheerleader wants her name on the back of her uniform, she can pay for it and keep it. But there also are uniforms available that remain at the school to be used year after year.

Same as if a coach wants a team to have special warm-up gear or other items.

“If a student says ‘I can’t afford it,’ we have to buy it,” Snyder said.


Editorial California should restore the trigger allowing parents to force change at low-performing schools

Posted on March 18, 2016 at 2:30 PM Comments comments (1372)
Happy Friday to all! 

An interesting editorial from the L.A. Times this morning that is worth reading.  I think most of us in schools didn't shed too many tears at the news that "API was dead".  Yet, this editorial brings up some valid points.  What are we doing during this interim period while we wait for a new assessment system, one created to measure progress under Common Core.

Now, I am putting on my teacher hat.  Rememember, state assessments (no matter what they are named) don't help us inform our classroom instruction.  We already know how to do this and nothing has changed.  We should still use classroom, teacher-made, benchmark assessments to inform instruction.  We assess, we study, we adjust.  

We all know a new "API" is coming.  Statewide assessments come and they go.  My advice, just let it act like water off your back and keep doing what we know works....your students will thank you when they are old enough to appreciate the gift you've given them. :)

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Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

March 18, 2016

For the first time in 15 years, California has no real accountability system for schools. The state's Academic Performance Index, which judged student progress mainly by test scores, was washed away in the switch to Common Core standards, and the shape of whatever will replace it is fuzzy. The federal government's rigid and unrealistic Adequate Yearly Progress measurement is also nearly dead, along with the won't-be-missed No Child Left Behind Act.

The dismantling of the API and AYP has also had a strange effect on California's parent trigger law, a reform that was pioneered in this state in 2010 but that has been faltering here of late. The law allows parents at low-performing schools to force change, such as a switch to charter status or new campus leadership, if a majority of them sign a petition. But under the law, the trigger can be invoked only at schools that have fallen short of an 800 API and missed their AYP targets. With those measurements gone or rendered meaningless, is the trigger dead?

 

That's what school districts would apparently like to believe. Twice in the last year, trigger petitions have been rejected on the grounds that the API scores date from several years ago. And in the more recent case, at 20th Street Elementary School, officials with the Los Angeles Unified School District added that the school had met its federal AYP target. (Former Supt. John Deasy made a similar argument in 2014, but his decision was overturned by his successor, Ramon C. Cortines.) While it is possible to look at it that way, the reality is that during the transition period when Common Core was being introduced, the state got permission to reduce AYP to a meaningless number that mostly reflects insignificant factors like attendance and test participation.

 

The rejection of the 20th Street effort is especially frustrating because this is the second parent petition there. The first one, last year, was never submitted because parents were assured that the district would take strong measures to improve the school. Those measures fell short in their eyes, leading to the second petition. Had the parents been hard-nosed from the start, they'd have transformed the school by now.

 

But the district also has a point — the API is outdated. The AYP doesn't measure anything useful and is about to disappear altogether.

 

And where is the state in all this? Why hasn't the California Board of Education adopted interim regulations guiding parents and schools considering using parent trigger through this foggy period? Why hasn't the Legislature laid down the law, at least temporarily?

 

As flawed as the trigger law is, it provides a mechanism for the most disenfranchised families to force school officials to listen to them. Yes, it's a new era in accountability and that will take some time to iron out. But in the meantime, parents in the lowest-performing schools are tired of waiting for the latest grand policy from on high.



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