Is SDUHSD sacrificing student well-being and student success?
On June 7th the Board of Trustees discussed the Budget. Listen to Staff's (audio)* overview to compliment the presentation.
CFO Delores Perley provides an overview of the numbers
CFO Delores Perley gives an update on CALSTRS/PERS
CBO Tina Douglas talks lack of reserves and what the future holds
School District Funding can be confusing to those not familiar with how it works, so once again we want to outline a few basic facts on school funding:
The State of California has changed the way it funds public education allowing school districts, like LAUSD, to better serve our high-need students. This new funding system is called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF):
School district must focus on the eight key areas that help all students succeed
Provides extra funding for students with greater challenges
Gives your district more flexibility to spend its money to improve local schools
Percentage Unduplicated: Unduplicated count of pupils who:
(1) are English learners,
(2) meet income or categorical eligibility requirements for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program, or
(3) are foster youth.
“Unduplicated count” means that each pupil is counted only once even if the pupil meets more than one of these criteria. Divided by total enrollment in the district.
LCFF per student: Base amount spent on each student. All districts receive this amount of funding for each student. FY 2017-2018, districts received $8,939 per student in grades 9-12 and $7, 518 per student in grades 7-8. *Both SDUHSD and Sweetwater have grades 7-12, thus we have averaged their base grant accordingly.
CAASPP – Standard Exceeded (ELA = English/Language Arts Literacy): CAASPP (CA’s standardized testing) given to students in both ELA and Math. This metric is the percentage of students that scored in the highest standard: Standard Exceeded which means the student is ready for English and/or mathematics college-level coursework.
Additional LCFF Funding: Additional per student funding based upon the Percentage of Unduplicated students. This is the extra funding that is given to districts to be used for students that have greater challenges as defined by the Percentage Unduplicated.
Now that you know some simple terms, let us show you what it looks like in simple form compared with a couple other High School Districts in San Diego County.
*Both SDUHSD and Sweetwater have grades 7-12, thus we have averaged their base grant accordingly.
What is it telling us? Well, the chart above is telling us that SDUHSD has fewer unduplicated students, which is why SDUHSD receives less funding. As a matter of fact SDUHSD has 58% fewer students that meet the unduplicated criteria of Escondido. YET, our students are performing significantly better in all areas then these other San Diego County High School Districts.
Another item of note is that our teachers are the highest paid in the county (don't forget about their special clause that they need to stay that way)
Let's now compare teacher salaries with average class size:
Makes sense, right? So then
WHY are we not having conversations about the correlation of funding to performance?
Perhaps it is because we do not want to see what is being sacrificed by having shallow conversations about funding.
Instead SDUHSD would rather have conversations lead by School Foundations who are allowed to scare parents into thinking the sky is falling in the District because our District is not getting "it's fair share", using fundraising tactics that mis-lead and scare families to the point that some will sacrifice what little they have to insure their students "play". (read example below - this is the budget for one team for one school year)
At the June 21, 2018 Board Meeting, three of the four high school foundations gave presentations to the School Board. Two of them gave very nice .ppt presentations. So if these Foundations are so valued as described by Trustee Dalessandro then why not put the presentations, in the least, as an attachment to the public minutes?
Could larger class sizes be compromising student well being? Here are some data trends that the school board has not discussed in public forums.
At the June 21, 2018 Board Meeting the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) was approved for the District and there was no discussion at that time about the fact suspensions and expulsions have gone up the past 3 years; with expulsion rates being slightly HIGHER then both state and county averages.
If we are high performing, should our expulsion % rates be higher then both STATE AND COUNTY averages?
Why is the Board not questioning what is going on with respect to the “significant upward trend” of suspensions and expulsions in the District? The School Board continues to rubber stamp suspensions and expulsions with no question of why more of them the past three years?
SDUHSD is a high performing District that should be setting the standard for new trends. Are our students so bad that restorative justice practices can’t be implemented to keep our students in School?
Is it a coincidence that as soon as the Teacher's Union Contract changed from actual class sizes to "class averages" that the suspensions and expulsions started to go up?
Now, I know the automatic response by the Teacher's Union is going to be that the Watchdog is picking on the Teachers. This is just not true, we believe we have a number of great teachers as well as a number of good teachers. Perhaps there are teachers that are not equipped to handle the changes in the Teachers Contract.
Is it a coincidence that a lack of leadership, accountability and a weakness of enforcement by the school board is creating a rise in suspensions and expulsions?
What we expect of our School Board, in concert with our community in public forums, is to let us know you are asking these questions of District Administration so that as a community we can ensure the best outcomes for the SDUHSD Students.
Here are some questions we believe a seasoned and competent superintendent will, would or should ask. And since we have not had one the past 4 years, we expect our School Board to fill the gap of it's only employee. (Mr. Perondi we are looking to you to demonstrate what good looks like)
Where has the discussion and direction been on the following questions:
How does SDUHSD have the highest paid teachers, the lowest funding, and the highest outcomes in the County?
Given the make up of our community, are the outcomes complacent and "just enough" because our School Board CHOOSES not to engage the tough questions to District Staff? Because, those students that are not meeting a UC/CSU standard do not even know what that is because counselors and teachers are so taxed that those 26.57% not meeting UC/CSU standards do not understand that is a metric they should be striving to meet.
Are we putting our limited funds to acheive the best outcomes? What programs do students want on campuses and are we maximizing their potential through leverging what makes student's come to school? (we did not even show the graphics about the "chronic absenteeism and truancy rates that have increased slightly over the last 3 years" as reported in the SPSAs item 16)
SDUHSD is clearly a giving community since every year over $5M is donated to the District through the Foundations. Where is the supervision and oversight of where these generous donations are going? Why does the community not see how all those donations are being spent at District Schools?
Again we point out, what is good for the Adults is not necessarily what is good for the Students.
We need a Board Majority that understands the difference and that means making the students #1 for a change.