Dear Bonsall School Community,

If you compare this blog to the message sent out back in 2008-2010, you’ll notice the big difference in information related to the budget. Back then our funding was being cut several years in a row, the State was deferring payments to school districts, and deficit spending made balancing the budget a hopeful plan for the future. However, we avoided the huge problems many other districts had with these tough fiscal issues. Instead of laying off teachers, we negotiated furlough days, we balanced our income with spending in transportation, food services, and daycare. We cut our energy costs with solar power. We took on the issue with a conservative fiscal approach that depended on collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication; 21st Century skills that helped us thrive in difficult fiscal times. When I say we thrived, I’m referring to the great jump in student learning we enjoyed. Our purpose of “Academic excellence and support for all students”, and our guiding principles, helped us turn crisis into opportunity.

Well, times are different now; you have probably heard that California’s return from the recession has brought more funding to schools to restore the funding to pre- recession levels. However, this money is allocated very differently now. In last year’s blog entries I explained this new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF is the biggest shift in school funding in California since Prop 13 in 1978, when Bonsall’s local property taxes were sent to the State, divided into various categorical pots of money and then returned with narrow parameters of how the money could be spent. The LCFF shifts budgetary decisions back to the local level.

The LCFF sends us a base amount of money similar to our funding level in 2008, and then adds a supplemental amount depending on how many lower income, English learner, and foster youth students are in school. If a district has more than 55% of these students combined, it gets a concentration grant of more money. Our district has only about 38% of these students, so unlike our neighboring districts, we don’t get the extra concentration funds our neighbors do. The intent of the LCFF is to reduce the gap in learning between these student populations and the other students, and let local school communities decide how the money should be spent to narrow that gap.

The Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) is what school districts now use to design a plan that creates goals and aligned budgets for increasing all student learning, especially for those lower income, English learners and foster youth. One of the major requirements for designing the LCAP is for the community to have input, so last year we held several meetings and surveys to gather a variety of perspectives to help design our Plan.

It is time to review the outcomes of last year’s Plan and make any necessary adjustments for continuous improvement. During the next couple months we will be presenting those outcomes to the Board of Trustees, employee unions, school site parent organizations like PTA and the English Learner Advisory Committees, as well as students, and asking for ideas that the Bonsall School Community might have for increasing student learning for all students even faster. As mentioned earlier in this blog, those 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity served us well, and continue to benefit us as we develop next year’s LCAP.

To measure students’ growth in learning for the LCAP, Bonsall USD has used the Measurement of Academic Progress (MAP) to track the growth of student learning because the State assessment has been changed to match the more rigorous new curriculum standards, and it will be too different to compare scores with the old California Standards Test (CST). Our current LCAP uses our fall to winter MAP scores to measure growth of student learning and that is the data we will present at the upcoming community meetings. Overall it looks good but we will be analyzing the data to look for ways to improve learning for all students and accelerate that growth for those that need it most.

Eventually the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) will be used for our LCAP, but this will be a baseline year because last year was just a field test with no individual student data being reported. Our testing window will open up next month. We are eager to take this new assessment, expecting it to help us see where we need to adjust instruction to meet the higher expectations of these standards designed to prepare our students for their future college and career experience.

As I’ve explained before, Bonsall High School (BHS) has inspired us to add to our purpose statement so it now reads, “Academic excellence and support for all students to become highly competitive in their chosen career path and/or college”. At BHS we are adding 10th grade next year; it is time to separate its administration from the middle school. The new Principal, Lee Fleming, began last week and has already become an impressive addition to the Bonsall School Community. She is more than able to meet the challenge of beginning our New Tech high school in Bonsall because for the last five years she has served as the Director of New School Development for New Tech Network, helping to start New Tech high schools across our nation. Again Bonsall has been blessed to add an outstanding member to our school community!

Another outstanding addition has been William Pickering II, our new Assistant Superintendent of Business and Administrative Services, who replaces the retiring Tom Krzmarzick. We will miss Tom but feel extremely fortunate to have someone of William’s talent and expertise.

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable Easter Break,

Justin Cunningham