The Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education on June 30 approved the District’s new funding prioritization plan that puts emphasis on counseling, college and career readiness, providing high-quality services, building relationships within the school community, intervention and providing a secure learning environment.

The Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) – the District’s blueprint for prioritizing spending under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) – is designed to give districts the flexibility to spend money to improve schools and requires them to focus on eight key areas: student engagement, student achievement; school climate; basic services; Common Core State Standards; access to a broad curriculum; parental involvement and other student outcomes.

The LCFF, which shifts spending decisions from the state to school districts, accounts for 82 percent of the District’s $177.8 million general fund budget. The 2014-15 budget was also approved June 30.

“The District held a series of informational meetings where we heard the priorities of our stakeholders, including community members, parents, educators and students,” said NLMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ruth Pérez. “The input we received was priceless. We worked diligently to compile that information into the LCAP so we, as a District community, can move forward on the same page.”

Under the LCFF, districts will receive a base budget augmented by additional funds that are generated by the number of its English learners, low-income students and foster youth. Collectively, these students account for 77 percent of the NLMUSD population. The state plans for an eight-year phase-in to fully fund the LCFF, which District officials expect to reach $187 million by the end of the span, an increase of about $38 million over the base.

According to the LCAP, the District will increase counseling and mental health support services to support at-risk students’ needs, including additional high school college/intervention counselors and mental health support programs for elementary level students. Additional coaches for Playworks, a District-wide structured-play program designed to improve the physical and intellectual well-being of children, are also in the plan.

To reach its goal in ensuring all students graduate prepared for college and the job force, the District will earmark funding to bolster and expand college-readiness programs and services, such as peer support groups, Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID) and college/career centers at each of the high schools. Additional funding will also go toward a College Night, and Advanced Placement class training for teachers and materials for both middle and high school students; College Board PSAT and SAT preparation courses and exams; and increased support for the visual and performing arts. Next year all elementary schools will have a music program, and guitar classes in all middle schools will be offered. Some middle schools will also begin to offer dance classes and choir.

Additional funding will also go toward professional training for teachers to support programs designed to help them deliver high-quality instruction for all students. The professional training will be provided for the New Generation Science Standards, Common Core mathematics and strategies to support learning for English-language learners and how teachers can use technology to enhance their instruction.

The iPad 1:1 program, which began in middle schools, will expand to ninth grade next year. Students in grades six-nine will have access to use of an iPad in some of their core classes as well as some of the magnet programs offered in each of the middle schools. The iPad 1:1 program will also allow parents to purchase an iPad for their student via a lease /purchase agreement the District has developed with Apple.

Because parents play an integral part in their children’s education, the District will increase the number of training opportunities for parents so that they can help their students’ achieve in the Common Core State Standards. Workshops will be offered in both English and Spanish.

Lastly, the LCAP provides for several ways to ensure students are provided with clean, safe and well-maintained learning environments.

“The Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District has always strived for a community of students who are prepared for life outside of high school,” said NLMUSD Board of Education President Margarita Rios. “Knowing our strengths and areas on which we can improve, the District community has a much better understanding of where our priorities should be, and being able to implement their ideas will help us achieve our overall goal.”

Photo Caption: Students interact with teachers using iPads, which is part of the iPad 1:1 program. The program that began in middle schools will expand to ninth grade next year as per the District’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which is the prioritization plan for spending funds under the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).