Q&A: Director of student support services discusses state’s new funding formula for education


Alan Schlichting is IUSD’s director of student support services, and he’s been making the rounds lately to share information about the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula, which represents a dramatic shift in the way California allocates dollars for education.

At the Board of Education meeting on Feb. 4, Schlichting explained that the LCFF will channel more resources to students with the greatest needs, including English-Learners, foster youth and low-income students. It will also mean greater accountability requirements, with broader benchmarks for measuring success.

We sat down with Schlichting this week for a brief follow-up interview to learn more about the LCFF and what it means for Irvine.

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Let’s start with the basics: How exactly does the new Local Control Funding Formula differ from the previous model?

Under the old system, there were more than 40 funding categories, each for a specific purpose identified by the state. The LCFF model has essentially established three pots of funding with increased local discretion to determine how best to spend those funds in the service of our students.

All districts will now start with a base level of per-student funding that varies slightly depending on grade levels. Then there’s supplemental funding, which adds 20 percent of the base for each English-language learner, low-income student and foster youth. Finally, there’s a third pot called a concentration grant that is equal to 50 percent of the entire base. But that’s only for schools and districts where English-learners, low-income students and foster youth exceed 55 percent of the total enrollment, and IUSD isn’t eligible.

So the idea is that funding will be more directed toward students who need the most help to succeed in school?

That’s correct. IUSD will receive more funds specifically to support services for low-income, English-learning students and foster youth. This extra funding will come from the supplemental grants, and we will continue to designate more resources for programs and services that serve our highest-need students.

When does this new model take effect?

LCFF was approved by the state Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown in June 2013. But remember that this represents a seismic shift in how schools are funded, and the state Board of Education is still in the process of working out some of the details and providing direction to county agencies. As such, school districts are currently being funded through a hybrid model of the previous Revenue Limit formula and the new LCFF model.

Will IUSD receive more money as a result of LCFF?

Yes, but there are couple caveats. For starters, it will take a few years to catch up to the funding levels we were at before the recession hit, and LCFF won’t be fully implemented until 2020-21. Even then, IUSD stands to receive less money than most districts in the state because the new model was designed specifically to channel more resources toward English-learners, low-income students and foster youth.

But ultimately individual schools in Irvine will see an increase in funding?

Yes. Eventually all schools will receive more funds, and schools with higher concentrations of low-income, English-learning and foster youth will see the greatest increases. Again, we are still recovering from years of funding cuts, so it may take a few years before we see the real impacts of LCFF.

I understand there are new accountability measures tied to the Local Control Funding Formula. Can you tell us about those?

All school districts will be required to submit what’s called a Local Control and Accountability Plan, or LCAP, that includes annual goals in eight defined areas. These areas are: Credentials and Instructional Materials, Academic Standards and Implementation of the Common Core, Parental Involvement, Pupil Achievement, Pupil Engagement, School Climate, Access and Enrollment and Other Pupil Outcomes.

So in addition to establishing and prioritizing these goals, we will be required to indicate the steps we need to take to meet them. The state Board of Education has adopted a template for this important work, which will include soliciting input from various stakeholders.

Does that mean parents help decide how money is spent?

Absolutely. Each district must follow a plan that incorporates community input on how the supplemental and concentration grants are spent in particular. Gathering input has long been a part of the budgeting process for IUSD, and we look forward to further strengthening our channels of feedback.

How will we know if our budget decisions improve student achievement?

Our district already has a number of ways with which we measure student progress, and we report our results regularly. In addition, all school districts will be required to submit their first Local Control and Accountability Plans in July for the 2014-15 school year. The State Board of Education is continuing to finalize some of the details, but we know that these plans must indicate goals for student progress, as well as the data we will use to measure that progress.

Can you tell us more about the LCAP timeline?

Sure. In January, the State Board of Education adopted its spending regulations and the governor unveiled his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. From now through June, we’ll be communicating with our stakeholders, gathering feedback and holding budget-planning meetings. The state Board of Education is expected to finalize its LCAP template in March, and our district will adopt its spending plan — along with a Local Control and Accountability Plan that covers the next three years — in June.

While the Local Control Funding Formula is projected to be fully funded by 2020-21, we know that all future spending is tied to the health of the state economy and therefore subject to change.

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For more information on the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plan, check out these resources:

California Department of Education LCFF Overview and Frequently Asked Questions
California School Boards Association LCFF Overview and Resources
Children Now LCFF Webinar Series
Legislative Analyst’s Office LCFF Overview
State Board of Education and WestEd LCFF Channel
A Vision For IUSD: Irvine Unified School District’s Strategic Initiatives