CUSD seeks parent input for spending

CUSD seeks parent input for spending
CUSD Board President Anne Tanner and Superintendent Suzette Lovely ask a small group of parents about what types of programs and initiatives should receive funding for the next school year. Photo by Rachel Stine

CARLSBAD — Beginning next fall, all California school districts will be implementing a new funding formula and accountability system. To fulfill requirements under the new system, the Carlsbad Unified School District is collecting community input about how district funds should be spent to best prepare students for college and careers.

Bruised from years of deficit spending, the district is “still not in great shape” financially, according to CUSD Superintendent Suzette Lovely.

The new funding system, LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula), will maintain the same base funding for students and increase funding for high needs students, including English learners and foster children.

LCFF is designed to give districts more control and flexibility over how they spend their money by eliminating 20 categorical programs, which restricted spending to certain programs. With the enhanced jurisdiction over how money is divided between local initiatives, districts are required to gather community feedback about how funds should be used.

A handful of parents gathered at the district’s first town forum on March 13 voiced requests for a greater focus on student engagement, connecting classroom lessons to future careers, and teaching life skills.

“(Students) get so focused on getting the 4.8 GPA to get into the right college, but they don’t even know how to fill out the college application,” said Kym Szalkiewicz, who has two kids in Carlsbad schools.

She said that students should be taught how to fill out job applications and balance checkbooks.

Brenda Becket requested that schools coach kids in time management, organization, work/life balance, and efficient studying techniques so students will be well rounded and prepared for life’s demands after high school.

A father of a Calavera Hills Middle School student emphasized that tying lessons to students’ career goals encourages them to take control of their education.

Parents suggested that the district bolster internship opportunities for students so they can get a taste of future careers.

They also emphasized a need for teachers to develop connections with their students, so kids have a positive association with school.

Sarah Anderson, a reading intervention specialist at Calavera Hills Elementary School, said a large part of that relies on lowering class sizes.

“I would absolutely put (lower class sizes) as number one,” she said.

The district is also collecting input via online surveys and meetings with advisory groups. The district is hosting a second town hall forum March 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Valley Middle School.

Lovely explained that staff would take all of the statements received and identify common interests and themes. These interests will be compared to CUSD’s existing programs, services and resources.

Staff will then determine if the district needs to develop any additional programs or services for the 2014-15 school year to meet the community’s priorities.

 

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