California districts roll out LCAPs to mixed reviews

Degree of teacher and classified input to local plans varies widely

Ray Gaer sees the Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, as “a different forum for unions to talk about things that matter and an opportunity to build more cooperative relationships. The president of the ABC Federation of Teachers says, “We can talk about how programs are selected and developed and how money is spent before getting to the bargaining table.”

Local educational agencies must have an LCAP explaining how they intend to meet yearly goals for all students, according to the Local Control Funding Formula, which has changed how California funds its K-12 schools. An LCAP requires input from parents, teachers, students, local bargaining units, staff and other community members.

The LCAP process is going very well at ABC because “the process is not foreign. We already had a strong and long-time partnership with the district.” The ABC Federation meets regularly with district administration and also played a crucial part in rolling out Common Core.

In the ABC district, LCAP will direct new funds to student behavior programs the union had pushed for, but had not yet found funding. Gaer is “glad LCAP is directing money where it should go, and” he adds, “the LCAP is another opportunity for unions to build capacity by giving members new ways to become active participants in meaningful education reform.”

The Berkeley Federation of Teachers “stretched the meaning of ‘consult with bargaining units,’” says President Cathy Campbell. It proposed an Educators Advisory Council, much like the legally required Parents Advisory Council. “Because we have gained political power and cultural capital while building our union over the years, the district agreed.”

The Educators Advisory Council includes certificated and classified and has met with the parents group. This fall, the district will meet with parents and educators together.

Union priorities included mental health counseling for students, staff training and coordination to assist students with learning difficulties, cultural competency training, resources to recruit more teachers of color, and a K-5 social-emotional curriculum program.

Campbell believes the ultimate plan “reflects all of our priorities with exception of some amounts not being as high as we’d have liked.” She attributes a successful LCAP process to the union’s member mobilization, community organizing and electoral work as supported through CFT’s Strategic Campaign Initiative.

Not all locals report such positive experiences. In the Central Coast, North Monterey County and Santa Cruz Federation presidents say their members gained little if anything from LCAP.

Kelly Moore says though the North Monterey County district set up a seemingly inclusive process and asked stakeholders for input, the results of which “reflected what administration wanted from the get-go. They got more principals and administrators. We had to fight tooth and nail for what we did get,” he says, referring to “some needed student discipline support.”

Moore, president of the North Monterey County Federation of Teachers, views bargaining as a better way to address educators’ needs and believes the gains members get may have more to do with increased funding as a result of the “tremendous energy we spent to pass Proposition 30, elect people on the school board and organize community allies.” 

The Santa Cruz local recommended measures designed to attract and retain the very best teachers in order to improve services for limited English speakers and free- and reduced-lunch students. 

Though the district invited us to weigh in,” says Barry Kirschen, president of the Greater Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers, “it didn’t seem to take any of our recommendations seriously. In the end, the final plan pretty much maintained the status quo.”

Carl Williams, president of the Lawndale Federation of Classified Employees, wishes the district had met with classified and certificated employees together “so as a group we could understand each other’s priorities.” Though classified didn’t get as much as they wanted, they did gain increased noon duty and custodial staffing. 

“Overall LCAP is a good thing,” says Williams. “I encourage all locals to monitor LCAP to ensure the money goes where it’s supposed to.”

— By Mindy Pines, CFT Reporter