The Lone Pine Unified School District opened up a discussion with the community on how best to use its resources under the new state school funding process.
The special meeting held Feb. 4 was the first step toward developing the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, required under the Local Control Funding Formula. The LCFF stabilizes school funding and provides additional grants for districts with what are considered high-risk student populations. It is those additional grant funds each district must account for, showing how the expenditures will specifically help those high-risk students.
But LPUSD, as a Basic Aid school, has an income that exceeds its allocation under the new funding formula. Explanation: Under the old state funding system, Basic Aid school districts were fully funded by property taxes. Revenue Limit school districts do not generate enough property taxes to meet the minimum funding requirements. The state provided additional funds to bring these districts up to that minimum. During the process of developing the LCFF, the state decided to hold Basic Aid districts harmless. In other words, LPUSD would not lose funding, but it would not gain any new funding either.
For Lone Pine, the difference between LCFF and property tax revenues is nearly $1 million, half of which goes to Sierra Sands Unified School District through a 1991 Joint Powers Agreement. For Lone Pine Superintendent Victor Hopper, his board of trustees and the community, the challenge is figuring out how to best spend $474,000 of unrestricted, but not new, funding.
“We don’t have a magic wand,” Hopper told those at the Feb. 4 meeting. “We can’t provide everything you may want but we want you to be part of the discussion.”
Fewer than 10 parents attended the Feb. 4 special board meeting/workshop but the district and schools have additional meetings planned. Yesterday, Hopper attended a meeting specifically for families of children who are English Learners at both Lo-Inyo Elementary and Lone Pine High School. “We’re going to discuss the services we have available (a daily half-hour session to move English Learners to English Proficient), find out if they like that or would prefer an alternative.”
In addition, a meeting will be held for Spanish-speaking Lo-Inyo families at the school’s Multi-Purpose Room at 4 p.m. Monday, March 10.
Surveys were handed out at the Feb. 4 meeting and are available on the district’s website. The responses, said Hopper, focused on increasing the number of electives including home economics, music, drama and courses defined as career/technical.
The next step for Lone Pine’s Local Control Accountability Plan is a draft plan in early March. The community will have an opportunity to respond to the draft before the plan is finalized and the board votes to adopt. The final step is approval from the Inyo County Office of Education.