The day after education officials heard from Klamath residents, Smith River School parents, including those from the Hispanic community, offered their own set of ideas for Del Norte Unified School District's Local Control Accountability Plan.
Hosted by the district, True North Organizing Network and Building Healthy Communities, parents at Smith River's LCAP meeting Thursday called for tutoring for all students, bilingual textbooks, more full-time counselors and bilingual instruction.
Manuel Saavedra, who helped translate what was said at the meeting from English to Spanish, said many local families wanted access to more bilingual resources as well as more classes that represent and uplift their culture.
"We were talking about how in other counties there's a Chicano studies class or courses," Saavedra said. "Having something similar to that would be nice."
The district will incorporate these ideas as well as input from meetings held in Klamath and Crescent City into its final Local Control Accountability Plan for 2019-2023. This plan also includes input from district committees representing parents, English language learners and foster students as well as teachers, administrators and classified staff.
Officials will present a draft version of the LCAP to the Del Norte Unified School District Board of Trustees on May 23. The school board will take additional public input at a hearing June 6 and is expected to approve the final plan June 27, said Steve Godla, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.
A companion piece of the new Local Control Funding Formula that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law in 2013, the Local Control Accountability Plan is a road map for how districts plan to spend additional dollars it receives to serve the English language learners, foster students, homeless students and low-income students within its jurisdiction.
Under the Local Control Funding Formula, California school districts receive a base grant of $6,485 per student, though the exact amount varies based on the student's grade, according to a handout from Del Norte education officials. Districts receive an additional 20 percent of the base grant for each student who is low-income, an English language learner, a foster youth or who is homeless. Students can only be counted once in these categories, according to the handout.
In Del Norte Unified School District, this extra money, called supplemental and concentration funding, accounts for 12 percent of its overall budget of about $38 million, according to Jeff Napier, the district's assistant superintendent of business.
Del Norte received $5.5 million in supplemental funding for the 2018-19 school year, Godla said. The district expects an additional $200,000 to $250,000 for 2019-2023, Godla said.
On Thursday, Godla said after holding two meetings each in Smith River, Crescent City and Klamath and after hearing from its various committees as well as taking input via a survey on its website, a few needs that have been addressed include increased communication with parents and the public as well as stronger social and emotional supports for students.
One of the more expensive proposals in the 2019-2023 LCAP is to hire two more counselors to serve students districtwide, Godla told parents at Margaret Keating on Wednesday. He noted some counselors are only able to visit schools two to three days a week. Crescent Elk Middle School with its 560 students has a full-time counselor and Redwood School with 520 students has a counselor four days a week, Godla told Margaret Keating parents.
On Thursday, he noted the additional $200,000-$250,000 that's expected in supplemental and concentration funding next year isn't much, but the district still wants new ideas.
Saavedra noted Spanish-speaking families aren't often invited to participate in public meetings like the one the district held Thursday.
Anna Dominguez, a representative of True North Organizing Network who also helped translate Thursday, said historically many Spanish-speaking families don't realize their input has an impact on the decisions and programs the school district implements.
"We have to motivate them with something like 'this is what's happened with your input,'" Dominguez said. "And then, too, understanding what all this means. Unfortunately you get invited to this they're like, OK, what is it?"
Dominguez also pointed out that for some, the format of the meeting and the way the information is represented can be intimidating. Interpreters aren't always available, which makes it difficult for some families to understand what's going on, she said.
"I've had experiences where I've had people stand by me or even sit with me at meetings," Dominguez said. "Just understanding that some of the community members didn't go to school. We do have to take that into consideration and really allowing a comfortable space where we're for sure going to have the interpreters available."
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