Board Briefs: School board weighs in on use of Common Core implementation funds

The Board of Education on Tuesday discussed how best to use $5.8 million in available state funding for the implementation of the California Common Core instructional standards.

The Common Core standards are part of a national movement aimed at promoting learning on a much deeper level, with a shift toward critical thinking, creativity, articulating positions and collaboration. (You can read more about the standards in this column by Superintendent Terry Walker.) To assist California’s schools with this very significant transition, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation over the summer earmarking $1.25 billion, or approximately $200 per student, to support the integration.

Just as there are specific rules on how these dollars must be spent, there are also a number of steps for school districts to follow, including a requirement that districts hold public meetings to explain and adopt their proposals.

On Tuesday night, Assistant Superintendent Cassie Parham shared a staff recommendation that would allocate approximately $2.4 million for professional training to grow the base of teacher leaders and mentors. Parham said an additional $1.8 million would pay for instructional materials, and about $1.6 million would pay for technology upgrades to aid the implementation and enable computer-based student assessments.

You can find the complete list of potential Common Core expenditures on the Board of Education’s Sept. 17 agenda. Note that the board is expected to vote on the recommendation at its next meeting on Oct. 1.

Here are some other highlights from Tuesday’s session:

  • Board members voted unanimously to authorize district staff to enter into a contract with TBWB Strategies, which will help IUSD communicate with the public about its technology needs and the implications of a potential technology bond. The Orange County Register has that story here. (Subscription required)
  • The board unanimously approved the submission of a request to the Irvine Public Schools Foundation outlining funding priorities for the 2013-14 school year.
  • To accommodate rapid growth resulting from new development on the district’s northern end, the board approved temporary revisions to Board Policy No. 7112, which covers school size. The temporary changes allow for a maximum enrollment of 1,200 at impacted elementary sites as new campuses are built.
  • The board approved attendance boundaries for new communities to the north, aligned with the recent decision to move the opening date of a planned elementary school in Portola Springs to the fall of 2015. The new boundary assignments will apply to future IUSD students and will not impact those who are currently enrolled.
  • Irvine Public Schools Foundation CEO Neda Eaton talked about the foundation’s upcoming annual campaign and presented the district with a poster-sized check made out to IUSD with two amounts: More than $1.44 million indicated how much IPSF contributed to the district in grants and donations for the 2012-13 school year, and $1.72 million represented the overall value of IPSF’s enrichment programs. (Eaton is pictured in the photo with Board of Education President Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner and Superintendent Walker.)
  • For its efforts to promote energy conservation and environmental sustainability, IUSD was also presented with the Emerald Award by the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of Orange County. Chamber President Jun Jao specifically praised the environmental benefits of the district’s solar initiative, which has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings and served as the basis for lessons on solar power.