Parental role in developing priorities grows, too

Last week, June 5, the Hemet Unified School District held public hearings for its proposed 2018-19 budget, which begins July 1, and its 2018-19 Local Control and Accountability Plan.

The proposed budget for next fiscal year is $290.6 million, which is $10.2 million more than the current year. However, it will still need to dip into reserves in order to balance the budget.

For this year, HUSD needed about $10.1 million from reserves but in 2018-19, the help from reserves will fall to $1.6 million as revenues, especially state funding, increases.

About $47.8 million of the total is restricted for special education; preschool; afterschool; Titles I, II and III; and debt. About 80 percent of the total is allocated for salaries and benefits. This includes a 1-percent increase effective July 1 and a 2-percent increase on Jan. 1, 2019.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Vince Christakos emphasized to the board that the retirement contributions for both the teachers and non-credentialed employees have risen and will continue to rise for the next four years.

Nearly $221.3 million of the 2018-19 revenues will come from the state based on the Local Control Funding Formula. Within that total, $51.2 million is allocated according to the LCAP.

Dr. Alex Ballard, HUSD’s director for assessment and accountability, presented the LCAP to the board and public and emphasized that the 2018-19 LCAP reflects a “dramatic realignment of goals and a reinvigoration of conviction of parents and staff.”

This year, the plan has three main goals and objectives subsumed within the goals. Surveys of parents and stakeholders, both closed and open-ended, and many meetings contributed to its development, according to Ballard.

The first goal is “Teaching and Learning,” which is funded with $16.8 million. This includes funds for the college and career program, English-learner support and several other objectives.

The second goal is the “Multi-tiered Systems of Support,” which allocates $18.6 million among five objectives. These embrace literacy initiatives, early intervention, services to support at-risk students and a few others.

The third goal is “Culture and Climate,” which is allocated $15.9 million. It is directed at encouraging and improving both student and parent engagement with school activities and studies. One of the indicators to measure the success of these objectives is a reduction in the chronic absenteeism.

One of the major changes with the LCAP this year, according to Alex Sponheim, HUSD’s public information officer, is “New services supporting at-risk youth, supporting social and emotional and behavioral support of students, as well as the ‘braiding’ of federal title funds to demonstrate an increased level of fiscal transparency that exceeds the expectations set by the California Department of Education.”

She also added that Idyllwild parents’ and staff input helped the district assign a full-time counselor to all outlying schools, including Idyllwild, and to continue financial support for struggling students.