MDUSD Accused of Misusing LCFF Supplemental Funds
By Linda Loza
MDUSD is again under attack for how it uses state funds – this time about funding designated for high-need students. Moreover, charges are being made that a significant portion of these funds has not been accounted for at all. Public Advocates Making Rights Real (PAMRR), a non-profit law firm and advocacy organization, has proceeded with a complaint against MDUSD under the California Department of Education Uniform Complaint Procedures. The complaint alleges that MDUSD’s use of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Supplemental funds is not in compliance with LCFF requirements and does not meet the equity intent of the law.
LCFF supplemental funds are supposed to be used for high-need students who meet the requirements of being economically disadvantaged, English language learners, and/or foster youth. Supplemental funds are in addition to the base grant funds allotted to all students. Because MDUSD’s student population is relatively segregated across the district at a higher-than-State average, MDUSD is obligated under the law to focus the supplemental funds on schools that serve high-need students.
Instead, PAMRR found that MDUSD used nearly 100% of the supplemental funds in a district-wide manner. The law requires that a district explain how each district-wide expenditure of supplemental funds is “principally directed toward” and “effective in” meeting high-need student goals. So far, it seems that MDUSD is unable to provide an explanation that is sufficient. The extra money that the district receives for high-need students must (and should) be spent to directly benefit those students. PAMRR also found that MDUSD did not account for $5 million of the $22.9 million of supplemental funds (nearly 22%) for 2016-2017, on top of $10.8 million not yet spent (missing) from the last two year’s Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP).
MDUSD’s high-need students perform at 6% proficiency based on testing through the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). These MDUSD students perform at half the State average (12%) for high-need students. As of September 2015, MDUSD has 5 schools on the Tier 1 Program Improvement Schools List (identified as the lowest 5% in the State). All 5 schools have a high concentration of high-need students. Oak Grove Middle School, which is the designated middle school for many Bancroft Elementary students under its “split” feeder pattern, performs near the very bottom out of all 1400 middle schools in the State.
Why wouldn’t MDUSD use the LCFF Supplemental funds to help raise the achievement level of these students and address equity as the law intended?
Can MDUSD really serve 32,000 students? Who is falling through the cracks?
Where is the $10.8 million, and next year will we be asking “Where is the $16.8 mil?”