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Top priorities for student success finalized in LCAP
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The Turlock Unified School District plans to add numerous new positions and courses at schools throughout the city as part of the 2017-2018 through 2019-2020 Local Control and Accountability Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees at their June 20 meeting.

The LCAP decides where and how the school district plans to spend state funds over the next three years, and is mandated by the Local Control Funding Formula. The LCFF places more spending control in the hands of the local districts and is based on specific considerations, such as increasing resources for unduplicated students, specifically low-income students, English learners and foster youth – a combined demographic that comprises 66 percent of the TUSD’s student population. The LCAP is a three-year plan that declares districts’ strategies on how to address state priority areas for students and identifies specific actions districts will take to achieve those goals.

While certain actions within the recently-approved LCAP directly serve students within the District that have a greater need, TUSD exceeds LCFF’s 55 percent threshold, which allows all students to benefit, according to Director of Assessment and Accountability Marjorie Bettencourt. The LCAP intentionally focuses on access and fairness for all stakeholders, with particular emphasis on meeting the academic and emotional needs of students.

“Students continue to engage in more academic interventions, social-economic supports, supplemental services for English Learners and guaranteed and viable learning experiences – and all from highly-trained staff,” said Bettencourt.

Included in this years’ LCAP goals are five priorities the District hopes to meet in the coming school year – down from last year’s six goals. These include providing viable learning from highly qualified teachers, maintaining a safe, secure environment for students through consistent policies, procedures and facilities, increasing students’ academic achievement and promoting college and career readiness, increasing parental involvement and providing social and emotional support.

The District plans to add new positions at school sites in order to support college and career readiness as well as academic needs of students in both core courses and electives, including the hiring of seven Reading Specialist/Early Literacy Coaches. The five elementary schools with the highest population of unduplicated students will each receive their own coach, and the remaining four elementary sites will share two coaches between them. An additional Next Generation Science Standards coaching position will be added as well.

Newly-added positions of Student Welfare Attendance Specialist and Student Support Clinician will ensure that the District is efficiently meeting the social and emotional needs of students, and a new position aimed at improving communication among all stakeholders throughout the District is also included in the LCAP through the Chief Communications Coordinator – a position that will be filled by former Turlock High School principal Marie Russell.

“The Chief Communications Coordinator will best serve the District by providing timely, relevant information to parents and students so that everyone is informed of programs, activities, and services available to the TUSD community,” said Bettencourt.

Communication with parents and transparency with stakeholders are highly-valued within TUSD, she added, especially during the LCAP process. The process includes a needs assessment, where stakeholders are able to provide input on actions that will benefit students, and a variety of stakeholder meetings are held throughout the school year so that students and their families are aware of where LCFF funding is going.

“TUSD has been transparent with the LCAP by including staff, parents, students and community members in the development process,” said Bettencourt. “Transparency correlates with collaboration and collaboration leads to the most effective ideas and actions to meet the needs of all TUSD students.”

Additional features of the LCAP improve the District’s Career Technical Education and Adult School programs, restructuring them so that they focus on more specific goals. Students hoping to learn real-world skills will benefit from a new 21st Century Skills course, which focuses on finance, career exploration, goal setting, technology and possibly health education, and a District-wide writing program will also be implemented. Other new positions to be added include an elementary music teacher and staff for Pitman High School’s Career Center.

“We hope that our focus will contribute to an increase in early literacy, support for English Learners with an increase in reclassification rates, industry-aligned CTE pathways and effective and timely interventions for students,” said Bettencourt.