About 150 school board members and administrators from throughout Merced County learned more about future state funding of education and implementation of common core instructional standards at a Monday night dinner meeting at El Capitan High School in Merced.
The session, sponsored by the Merced County School Boards Association and Region 8 of the California School Boards Association, featured presentations by Nancy Brownell from the state Department of Education and Dennis Meyers, assistant executive director of government relations for the California School Boards Association.
Ida Johnson, president of the Merced Union High School District board of trustees and vice president of the California Coalition of Black School Board Members, said feedback she has received from other trustees indicated Monday’s session was one of the best informational meetings the group has held.
Johnson said experts told the group that local school boards would have more power and responsibilities than ever before under new state funding scenarios, with less state control of local education decisions than in the past.
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Adam Cox, president of the Merced City School District Board of Education and president of the county school boards group, said Monday’s session was great and that the caliber of speakers was top notch. School board members from Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties also were on hand.
Cox said the state is giving local districts more funding but hasn’t written the rules on spending it. It will be January at the earliest before more specifics are known.
Tammie Calzadillas, assistant superintendent of educational services for the high school district, gave an overview of her district’s early efforts to implement common core instructional standards. Eighty-nine percent of the district’s teachers have been trained and 78 teachers have adopted the new curriculum.
School districts won’t be required to use common core practices for about a year. MUHSD teachers have spent the past two summers in professional development training on the teaching system, Calzadillas said.
RoseMary Parga Duran, MCSD superintendent, said the CSBA presentation was good, but that there have been many questions and no answers. She expects state regulation to remain stringent, with administrators having to account for how and why funds are being spent under local control funding formula rules.
Johnson said more than 20 black community leaders attended the CSBA session. Two more presentations are planned in Compton and Sacramento. She said trustees will need to inform their communities about funding changes and common core.
“It’s a big challenge for us,” Johnson said. “We need to look at all subgroups. If we do it right, we will help all children.”