LCAP plans reflect local goals for Merced education

It’s name may be somewhat unwieldy, but a Local Control Accountability Plan gives local residents a chance to weigh in on how their schools are governed, Tammie Calzadillas believes.

Calzadillas is assistant superintendent for educational services of the Merced Union High School District, and has had a pivotal role in how the state-mandated LCAP process has unfolded in local schools. The district has seven campuses in Merced, Atwater and Livingston.

“This is a plan in action,” Calzadillas said, “not something that will sit in a binder on a shelf. It’s a golden opportunity to do things that matter for the students of Merced County. The biggest idea is putting a local face on it.”

The first of three LCAP stakeholder meetings will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 29 in the district boardroom at Castle Commerce Center. Other sessions, scheduled March 19 and April 23, are updates to the three-year plan originally conceived a year ago.

Calzadillas said last year an average of 50 to 60 “very engaged” people attended the stakeholder meetings and she is expecting even more involvement this year. California school districts that receive their state money through the Local Control Funding Formula are required to develop LCAP documents.

District Superintendent Scott Scambray said the LCAP process involves stakeholders, or those with an interest in how local schools run.

“I look at it as a positive,” Scambray said. “It is a requirement, but it’s a step in the right direction. It’s a great idea that was started last year; we hope to improve upon it this year. We have 10,000 students and 1,000 staff members, and the more input we can get the better off we are going to be.”

Calzadillas said parents, students, community members, classified and certificated employees, administrators and board members are involved in setting goals and priorities. She said the LCAP identifies needs of local students and steps needed to implement improvements.

“Our job is to take a state plan and put an MUHSD face on it,” Calzadillas said. “We make it local. The first year was meant as a planning year, and this year we are gathering data, taking purposeful steps to look at our needs.”

Trustee Dora Crane said LCAP development is an ongoing process. A lot more flexibility is being shown compared with years past in setting goals. Board President Dave Honey said there is a little more clarity this year from the state on how the accountability plan process works.

“The state is willing to put more money into the hands of the schools,” Honey said. “Last year there was so much uncertainty and not a lot of clarity from the state.”

One outgrowth of last year’s LCAP development was approval of a school-based health center for Livingston High School and the possibility of another center at the East Campus Educational Center in Merced.

The LCAP focus also covers the full implementation of Common Core instructional practices and development of career pathways that prepare students for college or careers. The plan focuses on technology and the district’s migration to computer devices for all students, according to Calzadillas.

She said the LCAP for the high school district was formally adopted by trustees in June. It took administrators about four months to develop the 29-page report. The LCAP was submitted to the Merced County Office of Education, which gave its approval in August.

“It’s a local plan,” Calzadillas said. “The needs of the MUHSD won’t be determined in Sacramento. It’s based on local need, the voices of stakeholders.”