Monday, April 14, 2014


The Weighted Student Formula (WSF) was designed to distribute funding to schools based upon per pupil needs and the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) was intended to provide the funding for districts to do just that. So you have to wonder why SFUSD, an early adopter of the WSF, has decided not to use it as a means to distribute LCFF's supplemental and concentration grants, only the base grant. (I will tell you the reason shortly.) I naturally assumed that the Board of Education was going to revise the formula to account for the increased funding to the targeted groups, FRPM, LEP and foster children. But according to Guadalupe Guerrero, Deputy Superintendent of whatever, SFUSD has decided to forego inclusion of the two grants into the WSF.

For those of you  I've gotten ahead of, LCFF divides education funding into  base, supplemental and concentration grants. The base grant provides the foundational money to run the schools. The supplemental grant is for low SES students, English learners and foster kids. The concentration grant targets the  same populations but adds more funding (unduplicated) for every eligible student in excess 55% of the district.

Back to the story. We have a district dedicated to serving its underserved populations and the WSF was implemented by Arlene Ackerman for that purpose. It is widely hailed as a forward thinking reform and many districts across the country have adopted it. So why  isn't SFUSD using the formula to roll out the implementation of LCFF? There's only one possible answer. The leadership wants to hold the purse strings to these funds to use as it deems appropriate. If SFUSD were to roll it into the WSF, the money would be distributed automatically according to need - the whole idea behind LCFF. But that would also mean Superintendent Zone schools would only receive whatever LCFF funding was due them via the WSF and the leaders wouldn't be able to fund their special project to the level they'd like. (It should be remembered that not all funds are distributed through LCFF's three grants. Some state and all federal funding is still categorical and this money will continue to flow separately.)

The decision by SFUSD also raises the issue of compliance with the LCAP - the Local Control Accountability Plan. This is the accountability portion of the LCFF law . Among other things, it requires districts to get input from the community and to incorporate that input into their district plan. So why has SFUSD already decided not to include the supplemental and concentration grants in the Weighted Student Formula even before it gets the feedback from the community?

Again, that is not hard to figure out. The community engagement process is just a dog and pony show this district puts on to comply with the State law. To illustrate my point, I attended the first LCAP community meeting last Saturday. The meeting was scheduled from 9 am to 11:30. At 11:00 they were only beginning to get the input from the attendees and the meeting went only 5 minutes overtime. The whole first two hours were taken up by speeches by the Superintendent and his functionaries and some people from Parents for Public Schools - the sponsor of the event.  Much of it had nothing to do with the LCAP. Among other unrelated topics, I even ended up voting to reelect the board of PPSSF, an organization of which I'm not a member and decided to forgo nominating myself under the circumstances.  I could go on about the so-called LCAP community forum, but suffice is to say, it was a pointless exercise brought to you by the public relations arm that is in essence the soul of SFUSD.

Monday, April 7, 2014


SFUSD claims the Superintendent Zones are a giant success. Nine of these schools received School Improvement Grants funding totaling $45M over the 2011, 2012 and 2013 school years. Yet, a cursory review of the achievement data paints another picture.

Of the sixteen schools in the Zones, nine of them had lower scores in 2013 compared to 2012. Comparing the 2013 scores with the scores from 2010, the last year before the start of the SIG program, four schools had lower scores, two of which were significantly lower, Malcolm X and Drew. Five schools posted total gains under 25 points during these years, representing a statistically insignificant increase. Three schools posted mediocre to average gains between 25 and 69 points. Four schools posted gains between 70 and 121.  These schools were Buena Vista Horace Mann, Everett, Muir and Revere. Of the sixteen schools  a majority of nine failed to outperform the district as a whole. You have to wonder how the media can overlook the widespread failure of the Superintendent Zones.

Should SFUSD close down the program for most of the schools and stop spending money without reasonable results?