by We’Ced Youth Media
Experts, community advocates, parents and students gathered at the Merced Senior Center on October 24th to discuss their preferences for how new funds are to be spent at local schools. The Fair School Funding Law, or Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), determines that school districts with high percentages of low-income and English learning students can receive a share of an expected $18 billion increase in education spending in California over the next eight years.
The forum was part of the School Success Express tour, a series of community forums organized by The California Endowment to raise awareness of LCFF and foster conversations about how the law can improve local schools.
Samantha Tran, Senior Director of Education Policy at Children NOW, said it was important that the community participate in the school’s funding decisions. Tran warned parents that parts of the LCFF are being defined quickly and that the community needed to raise their concerns before the year closes.
In early 2014 the State Board of Education plans to unveil their final decisions regarding regulations on how new dollars can be spent and a plan for what is being called ‘achievement plans,’ a template that school districts would follow to show accountability and progress.
Attendees had no shortage of ideas for how the new money could improve schools, and better engage parents and community.
Irenee Beattie, a UC Merced Sociology professor and mother of two students, both attending local schools, said she wants to see the resources used to reinvigorate arts and physical education programs as well as reduce class sizes at elementary and middle schools.
Loretta Spence, president of the local NAACP chapter, said she would like to see more leadership development and better school lunches.
Zachery Kincaid, a high school student, thought these added resources should lead to more recreational opportunities for students.