ACSA members take part in roundtable discussion with legislators
More than a dozen ACSA members led in roundtable discussion held recently with legislators and other groups. The discussion was held in a conference room in the governor’s office, with approximately 70 people in attendance. Among the attendees were Assemblymen Kevin McCarty and Tony Thurmond.
ACSA President Ralph Porras led off the discussion by urging the ACSA members in attendance to share their stories of conditions in their own districts. As McCarty noted, this can be extremely helpful to legislators in discovering the real-world impact of policies on schools.
Afterward, Terri Rufert, superintendent of Sundale UESD, said she hopes these discussions can continue moving forward.
“I would like for the legislators, governor, SBE, CDE, LAO and DOF to continue to work with us before they make decisions on how best to spend additional money on schools,” Rufert said. She added that it would be helpful to get information from school leaders on any proposals impacting school funding or improvements to the LCAP.
Superintendent Gregory Franklin of Tustin USD said he felt the main message was clearly communicated during the discussion.
“We’re making good progress under the LCFF and we appreciate and value of the local control,” Franklin said. “At the same time, there simply aren’t enough funds in the program. Increased costs – step and column, employee health care, and increased pension contributions – significantly eat into the supplemental and concentration funds intended to focus on the targeted students. California must get out of the national cellar in per-pupil spending.”
“I was pleasantly surprised at how receptive everyone there was,” Rufert said. “It seemed like they all had a genuine interest in what we had to say. The Assembly members asked great questions and had good responses. The governor’s staff, DOF representative and the SBE attorney also seemed to really want our input. ACSA staff did a fantastic job at making this a worthwhile venture. I hope there are more to come.”
Afterward, McCarty also indicated a desire for the discussions to continue.
“Today was a good dialogue focusing on how LCFF funding has been implemented, and what it is and what it is not,” McCarty said. “It’s created some better outcomes, and better policies and programs in districts throughout California. But there’s also a long way to go to make sure we adequately fund our public schools.”
“I am optimistic that the attending legislators and numerous legislative staff members heard the message and engaged in the conversation,” Franklin said. “The key will be maintaining contact and reinforcing the message throughout the state’s budget-development process. The voice of ACSA and individual ACSA members must be at the table to ensure continued growth.”
ACSA Senior Director of Governmental Relations Edgar Zazueta also noted that it would be advantageous to all involved for such discussions to continue.
“We would like to encourage the Legislature to start thinking about where we can go once LCFF is fully implemented,” Zazueta said. “LCFF has created opportunities for us, but now we need to begin to think long-term. What will LCFF 2.0 look like?”
It is a good time to start thinking about the issue as the recent budgetary forecast from the Legislative Analyst’s Office said the state could possibly fund 99 percent of the Local Control Funding Formula in 2017-18. As ACSA members noted during the roundtable discussion though, LCFF has always been about redistributing available funding, not increasing money to schools.
Zazueta said the plans are to have more roundtable discussions after such positive feedback from everyone involved.