New Funding Formula Benefits Students with the Most Needs

As active members in our community each of us plays a role in developing the city's future leaders -- our youth.

As Superintendent, I know that education is key in changing the conditions many of our more than 73,000 students face each day.

The Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, is designed to improving academic outcomes for all students with additional resources for our low-income students, foster youth and English learners.

In Fresno Unified, that represents 88% of our student population.

Through our Board of Education's solid fiscal stewardship, we are investing more than $154 million in LCAP dollars to new and ongoing resources in staffing, programming, and operations - all building upon our record high graduation rate of 83.8%. Some of our LCAP investments include:

- Maintaining our 24:1 student to teacher average in grades kindergarten to third, five years ahead of the state requirement
- Expanding the additional 30 minutes of additional instructional time to a total of 40 elementary schools
- Adding more social emotional supports at school sites, resulting in 86 full-time employees to support our students

- Committing ongoing funds of $12.7 million for English learners
- Adding Hmong as one of many foreign languages offered in high schools
- Increasing school site allocations by $5 million
- Improving safety with:
- a uniformed police officer or a police chaplain at every school
- new high definition cameras and LED lighting at all secondary schools.
- Rounding out our high school aquatic centers by building new pool complexes at McLane and Roosevelt, and finally,
- Investing $13 million for career technical education (CTE), including a new bus, a bus driver, and a route providing access to the expanded career pathways at Duncan Polytechnical High School.

This $13 million does not include newly awarded grants for health pathways and incentive grants.

These grants total another $10 million, of which $6 million will be implemented this year. This brings the total investment to $19 million in ongoing resources toward CTE in 2016/17. That is a stunning three-fold increase from just a few short years ago.

To support these investments, we will be hiring 140 new teachers and classified employees, all while balancing our current and long-term fiscal responsibilities.

In an effort to gather community input, Fresno Unified staff conducted more than 73 LCAP meetings and workshops across the district with more than 2,000 residents, and collected 3,000 surveys, all of which helped formulate this year's plan.

While there can be a gap between what students need and what adults want, district staff carefully listened to the top priorities of our community. The top priority for teachers was smaller classroom sizes - so we funded maintaining our 24-1 staff ratio from pre-kindergarten-third grade.

Students requested we update restrooms on high school campuses to match our newer buildings - so we approved $2.6 million for restroom improvements.

Our parents' top priority was that we continue to provide programs to keep students on target to graduate. Our budget does that with CTE, English learner and social emotional supports.

We were also able to open joint use green space for our community with the City of Fresno and provide funding for safety improvements with police officers, cameras and lighting investments. All of these LCAP priorities will build upon our record high graduation rate and are good investments for our city.

I once again thank the many people who took the time to provide their input and be a voice in helping move student learning forward.

I hope you are enjoying time away with your families and with students out of school. Soon enough we will ring the school bell for all to return for another great year.