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School District Eyes Future
w Gov Brown
Governor Jerry Brown, left, and Riverbank Unified School District Superintendent Daryl Camp met on Monday, Feb. 24 along with other county superintendents and staff from the County Office of Education for an open discussion about educational issues including school funding and accountability, charter schools, career and technical education, the Common Core State Standards, graduation and dropout rates as well as preparing students for college. - photo by Contributed

The Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) is looking for suggestions from students, parents, teachers, staff, administrators and community members on what it will take to prepare more students for life beyond high school. While the school district has always worked with the community to improve its schools, officials admit there is a need to become “more purposeful and strategic” about preparing RUSD students for the jobs of today where students will need some sort of post high school preparation in order to take advantage of the job market.

As a part of a massive effort to improve student learning, the state of California is requiring all school districts to work with their communities to establish the best conditions for learning in schools. In 2013, Governor Brown and state legislators approved a new method of funding schools called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF provides a more flexible method of funding schools, removes several state mandated funding programs, and gives local communities an opportunity to make decisions that are best for local conditions and district priorities. The LCFF establishes a base level of funding for students in various grade spans and provides additional funding to increase or improve services for low income families and foster students as well as students who are learning English as an additional language. Over 80 percent of RUSD students fall into one of these three categories. The governor made a brief stop in Stanislaus County recently to meet with superintendents and Riverbank’s Camp was among them. (See related story.)

Along with the LCFF came a system of accountability called the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). School districts must work with the community to develop a plan that will serve all students and additional services that benefit low income, English learner and foster students. The LCAP has three primary categories. They are student outcomes, conditions for learning and community engagement. Inside of those three categories are eight state priority areas. The LCAP will be a three-year plan and must be approved by the school board along with the annual budget. Every year the school district will be able to modify the LCAP. The Riverbank Unified School District plans on approving the LCAP at one of the board meetings in June.

“Really what we need to do is write up a plan and the plan really focuses on three areas: community engagement, conditions of learning so what do we do to set the conditions for kids to learn, all leading to student outcome,” explained RUSD Superintendent Dr. Daryl Camp. “Those are the three areas that we need to talk to a whole lot of people and get meaningfully engaged with the community to see what the community thinks of how we can improve or increase services for our kids and particularly those three types of kids, English learners, free and reduced lunch students, and foster kids.”

The District will invite selected students, teachers, classified staff, administrators and community members to a strategic planning workshop on Friday, March 21 in order to revisit the mission, vision and goals of the district. Then, on Saturday, March 22 the District’s board of trustees will consider community suggestions while developing a Strategic Plan for the district. The Strategic Plan will establish priorities for district initiatives. With the district’s priorities in mind, staff will work with members of the community to develop the Local Control Accountability Plan for the district.

Developing the Strategic Plan and LCAP is a tremendous opportunity for the community, said Camp. In an effort to inform community members of this opportunity, Camp has visited or plans on visiting students at Riverbank and Adelante high schools, students at Cardozo Middle School, Riverbank Rotary, teachers, site and district staff as well as school parent groups.

Anyone interested is encouraged to look at the Riverbank Unified School District website to see how they may get involved in developing the Local Control Accountability Plan. There is a survey on the website and a list of community meetings that are scheduled for April, May and June. Also, contact school sites or the district office at (209) 869-2538 if you would like more information about the Local Control Accountability Plan.

“So now what we need to do is we need to see what’s best for us locally and then, it really is actually restoring more control at the local level and less from the state,” said Camp. “I am excited about it.”