Parents voice concerns to Alhambra school board regarding new state funding

Approximately a dozen concerned parents attended the Alhambra Unified School District School Board of Education meeting Tuesday to discuss the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), a state-required set of goals for how to allocate new education funding. Parents asked the school board to address the needs of low-income students, fix broken school facilities, and hire more teaching and support staff. Read the LCAP below.

AUSD's current LCAP mainly funds six goals: maintain organized schools, provide a quality and rigorous education, provide access to technology, maintain a safe learning environment, maintain student engagement in learning, and engage families and communities in education.

The LCAP is required by school districts by Governor Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), a new state funding law that will distribute funds to districts based on the needs of each student. Districts that serve high-needs students — low-income students, English-language learners, or foster youth — will receive additional funds. The LCFF requires each district to create and submit an LCAP that meets state education standards, such as student engagement and parent involvement levels, and to consider community input when determining how the money will be spent. 

The school board presented Tuesday the latest draft of its LCAP, revised after input from community members and school staff, as well as a review from a Los Angeles County Department of Education task force. The board then opened the floor to the public.

Arlene Acosta, mother of two sons in AUSD schools, told the school board that families from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are disadvantaged at the district. “I want the money to make it equitable for all parents. I want more help for the middle [class] Hispanic family. Due to financial matters my kids can’t go to summer school so they don’t have the same opportunity for enrichment,” Acosta said, adding that she would like the district to allocate money towards preparing students for college.

Dr. Gary Gonzales, assistant superintendent of educational services at AUSD, responded by saying that the district will focus on teachers and high-quality teaching to help close the achievement gap and reach out to minority students. “There isn’t one magic bullet to close the education gap," Gonzales said. "The number one influence on student performance is teachers and we have been and will continue to support them."

The district's LCAP allocates $69 million towards “high quality teachers” and “increased teaching staff” for the 2014-2015 school year.

Several other residents spoke on decreasing class sizes and hiring more student support staff. “More staffing and counselors are needed at the elementary school level. A lot of kids are experiencing emotional stress," said a mother of two daughters at AUSD. "I hear a lot of kids don’t know about college and I think more counselors can help with that.” 

Roman Hernandez, president of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at San Gabriel High School, spoke about maintenance needs at AUSD high schools, particularly about SGHS bathrooms. “You’re lucky if you can find two sinks that work,” Hernandez said.

Monterey Park resident Bob Tam also raised the issue of broken or unclean facilities at Repetto Elementary School. “Who do I talk to about getting the air conditioning fixed? Who do I contact to get missing chairs back? I thought it might be good to spend some money there,” Tam said.

Robert Gin, president of the school board, addressed Tam and Hernandez’s concerns. “We’ll take care of the facility part," Gin said. "Tell us if something like this comes up so we can take care of it.”

The LCAP allocates $1 million dollars per year from 2014-2017 to “district-wide repairs and maintenance costs." Gin encouraged anyone to call the superintendent or write letters to the district regarding any school facility in nonworking condition.

The school board will meet during the fall of every school year for the next three years to review the LCAP. While Gonzales was satisfied with the of parent input during the LCAP process, he emphasized that the district is always open to more.

“I want to encourage everyone to stay involved," he said. "This is an opportunity to take control of our kids futures and at the heart of all of this is educating students.”

The AUSD school board will vote on adopting the LCAP during its June 24 meeting.

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