The event was a joint effort by BHC and partner groups like Cultiva La Salud, Healthy Equity Project and the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE) that provided dozens of MCSD parents with a chance to air concerns over the district’s spending. In total, more than two-dozen families were in attendance, speaking four different languages and representing a wide swath of the community concerned over the lack of transparency in the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
The LCAP is a statewide requirement for school districts that must show how each agency plans to spend money provided through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Like many districts, MCSD relies on LCFF dollars for a majority of its budget and the state funds accounted for 75 percent of the district’s $134 million 2016-2017 budget. About $21 million of those LCFF funds are considered equity-based and intended specifically for high-need populations like foster youth, low-income students and English Learners.
As Merced schools lie within one of the poorest counties in the state, many students fit within one or more of the groups eligible for additional funding under LCFF. According to Kidsdata.org, 79% of students in Merced County are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, available for children whose family’s income is 185% or less of the federal poverty line, or about $44,000 for a family of four in 2013-2014.
A group of 13 Merced youth, ranging from ages 12 to 24, visited the State Capitol last Tuesday in a trip organized by the Merced Organizing Project (MOP). Their mission was to bring attention to issues plaguing their community such as violence, education and health care.
YouthWire asked high school students from across the state to weigh in on that question, using photographs and their own words. The State Board will vote Jan. 16 on what is expected to be the final version of the new funding law.