English Language Learners and the Local Control Funding Formula
When then-Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law in 2013, California’s leaders were hopeful that this legislation would set high expectations for flexibility, transparency, and equity within school districts. A key component of the legislation was to allow districts more flexibility to make spending decisions as they saw fit to serve their students. This report investigates how two districts—Los Banos Unified School District in the Central Valley and Chino Valley Unified School District in the Inland Empire—have been able to use the flexibility of the LCFF to serve students who are classified as English Language Learners (ELLs). Examined data include the districts’ Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs), local ELL policies, and interview data on how local actors have undertaken their budgeting charge with regards to ELLs.
We find that in Los Banos Unified School District, the LCFF has allowed for the creation of dialogue and advocacy spaces that did not exist before. In Chino Valley Unified School District, the plasticity of governance structures has allowed for the development of internal coherence. Therefore, while their work is still in flux, both districts showcase instances in which ELLs are benefitting from locally devised mechanisms and structures aimed at improving their education. Looking ahead, we note the following:
LCAP stakeholder engagement is critical for delivering the promise of the LCFF.
Re-envisioning the LCAP instrument is necessary for meaningful stakeholder engagement.
LCAPs promote equity initiatives but can take a pace slower than that of educational reformers.
Equity and meaningful stakeholder engagement call for explicit connections between LCAP funds and ELLs.
Advocates on the ground are key. In both districts, the appointment of leaders in charge of ELL services has had a direct impact on the quantity and quality of services provided to ELLs and their families through LCFF funds.