By Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools
We’re seeing many positive developments in our schools as we implement the Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, that our Board of Education unanimously approved in June.
The LCAP is our response to the state’s approval of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) for schools. The formula replaces the state’s outdated and confusing school finance system with a more streamlined one that gives schools greater flexibility to use state funding based upon students’ needs.
Shortly after the state’s approval of the new formula in 2013, we embarked on a sweeping effort to engage the community in shaping our local plan, including multiple surveys and meetings. The plan is required under the state’s new formula, and it spells out spending priorities and accountability measures to make certain that resources are used effectively.
Today this plan is resulting in real benefits for all of our students, particularly our most needy students, which is the intent of the state’s revamped formula.
Hundreds of high school juniors from all walks of life are taking advantage of free SAT preparation, arriving on time and eager to learn at Saturday morning sessions at each of our large high schools. By the end of March, each of these students will receive 37 hours of SAT prep, including practice exams and college planning. The prep sessions help to level the playing field for students, while parents save hundreds of dollars that might otherwise be spent on expensive prep courses and materials.
We’re also providing students with greater access to Advanced Placement college-level exams by covering much of the cost for families. AP exams cost $89 each, but this school year students are paying only $5 per exam for an unlimited number of exams. For each exam, students deposit $15 and receive a $10 rebate once the exam is taken. This means that for a student who takes five AP exams, the tests will cost $25 instead of $445. This offer applies to all students in grades 8 to 12 (some students take AP courses as early as eighth grade).
Our local plan also allocates significant funding to help all groups of students this year in many other ways:
- Expanded K-12 counseling support, $4.35 million;
- Expanded college and career readiness efforts at high schools, including more internships, $2 million;
- Enhanced K-12 library education programs, $1.1 million;
- Enhanced elementary music program districtwide, $2.8 million;
- Enhanced nursing services, $980,000;
- Restoration of summer school in high school, $1.25 million;
- Parent involvement resources, $350,000;
- Technology support, $1 million;
- Board of Education initiatives, $1 million;
- Campus security and police support, $2.4 million.
In addition, the local plan is resulting in targeted assistance for specific populations of students who need extra help:
- Resources allocated directly to schools based upon low-income, English Language Learner and foster youth counts, $8.8 million. These funds are governed by school site councils and used for student interventions. See school-by-school details at lbschools.net under School Budgets > School Expenditure Plans;
- Third grade literacy classrooms at high-poverty schools, with a 20:1 student/teacher ratio, $3.8 million;
- Male/Female Academies (for at-risk youth), $400,000;
- Support for English Language Learners and their families, $1.1 million;
- Foster youth coordinator, $50,000;
- Support for the North Long Beach Math Initiative, $100,000.
Next year we will provide even more support for students, including:
- Paying for the PSAT exam for all eighth through tenth graders;
- Paying for the SAT exam for all eleventh graders;
- Second grade literacy classrooms at high-poverty schools, with a 20:1 student/teacher ratio, $4.37 million
- Literacy specialists at non-Title I (or not federally subsidized) elementary and K-8 schools, $2.75 million;
- Enhanced middle school library services, $500,000;
- Enhanced nursing services, $500,000.
Each of the items funded in our local plan includes specific accountability measures, as required by the state, so that we can determine the effectiveness of these efforts and make any necessary adjustments. Extensive school-by-school data and goals are available at lbschools.net under LCAP > LCAP District & School Data. The aim is to give students brighter futures while using taxpayer-funded resources responsibly.
The plan’s priorities were selected after much consultation with parents, students, educators and other members of our community. I believe that our community has chosen to invest wisely, and I look forward to keeping you apprised of our progress.
Thank you to everyone who supports this important work.