The Governing Board of the Benicia Unified School District heard an update on the district’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) at Thursday’s meeting.
In 2013, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Local Control Funding Formula, which allows school districts to decide which programs and services to spend state funding on. The LCAP is slowly being rolled out at BUSD and is expected to be fully implemented by the 2020-2021 school year.
Dr. Leslie Beatson, assistant superintendent of educational services, provided a timeline of the LCAP process. On April 21, a draft of the LCAP was sent to the Solano County Office of Education. On May 17, Gov. Brown will unveil his May budget revise to give BUSD an understanding of what the district’s funding picture looks like. At the June 1 school board meeting, a presentation and public hearing on the LCAP Strategic Plan will be held with a vote anticipated for the June 15 board meeting.
Beatson noted several highlights in the new LCAP’s Strategic Plan that were included in response to data and feedback. These included:
* Establishing an after school math support program next year at Robert Semple Elementary School, Mary Farmar Elementary School and Benicia Middle School for students who meet the determined criteria.
* A Summer Bridge Math Program for Mary Farmar and Robert Semple students transitioning from fifth to sixth grade and Benicia Middle Schoolers transitioning from eighth to ninth grade.
* A Summer Bridge Literacy program for Mary Farmar and Robert Semple students transitioning from first to second grade.
* A middle school math coach.
* Support for visual and performing arts programs at Mary Farmar, Robert Semple and Liberty High School.
* A music teacher for fourth and fifth-graders to replace the keyboarding elective, which can still be offered as a program for use at home or in the classroom.
* New materials and textbooks for when the district adopts Next Generation Science Standards.
* An additional section at Benicia High School for iQuest, an internship course for seniors.
* Increasing the Career & Technical Education pathway at Benicia High to include medical and construction trades.
* The implementation of the reading program Lexia at all the elementary schools.
Trustee Diane Ferrucci asked if Lexia was meant to be a replacement for the previous reading program MyON and inquired why that program was being cut. Beatson said the program was too expensive and only a few students were using it at home.
“Lexia is something teachers will use as an instructional tool in class,” she said. “Some to the other feedback we got from parents was that they didn’t want their kids reading as much online. They were still using the books. We didn’t feel that the MyON program, which was a way to just give kids additional access but it wasn’t used as a major instructional tool, was gonna get us the bang for the buck where Lexia will.”
Trustee Stacy Holguin asked what the district was doing to build up math programs at the elementary levels to mitigate remediation at later levels. Beatson remarked that since the implementation of the Everyday Math program, elementary students had done very well.
“It will take some time to roll up, but it really helps kids think differently about math,” she said. “There are a lot of great strategies. They still want memorization, but that fast-skill, timed test is gone, so that whole practice doesn’t happen anymore. What they’ve learned is kids just freeze and so they know much more than they can actually produce because of those other pressures. I think the elementary math program is on its way to be really strong, and that showed not only through our local benchmark but also our state testing as well.”
The board will dive further into the data of the LCAP Strategic Plan at the June 1 meeting.
In other business, the board voted 4-0— Trustee Peter Morgan was absent— to approve the contract for the fire alarm upgrade at Benicia High to Bockmon & Woody Electric, the lowest bidder of the four contractors to pre-qualify. Additionally, Benicia High’s new speech and debate class was highlighted by teacher Michele Gaines who brought in students Timothy Knox and Michela Richardson to share the skills they learned and the kinds of speeches they have delivered. It was also the last meeting for Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Gardner, who is retiring after more than 35 years as in the education field and six years with BUSD. He will be succeeded by Dr. Khushwinder Gill.
The next meeting will be Thursday, June 1, although a special meeting will be held at 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 10 to award a solar contract to provide panels at four of the district’s schools.