AUSD LCAP Mishap
By Dr. Lamont Ali Francies, PPSC
The purpose of the LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan) is to level the playing educational field. This is achieved when three subgroups: English language learners, foster youth and low-income students receive equitable resources to that will lead to the closing of the achievement gap. In 2021-22, Antioch Unified School District is projecting it will receive just over 32.4 million dollars based on the enrollment of the aforementioned subgroups. The LCAP is designed to provide school districts and their communities with more local control and make it easier to respond to the needs of their students. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) gives school districts more flexibility in deciding how to use state funds. In exchange, school districts must work with parents, educators, students, and the community to develop the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) that shows how they will use these funds to serve students. The accountability for the LCFF funds therefore lies in the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). All School Districts are required to produce an LCAP, demonstrating how the LCFF funds are linked to meeting the needs of targeted subgroups. In the Antioch School District, therefore the problem is not necessarily a lack of funding however it is the perpetual misallocation of these funds. For example in November 2017, the Antioch Unified school board in a 3-2 vote approved a controversial contract for 54,000 dollars with local media blogger Mike Burkholder, (The chief editor of East County Today). The contract with Mr. Burkholder was approved with the objective of ‘improving parent and community engagement’. In terms of improving communication with devalued communities, I can personally think of ninety-nine ways to so; but advertising in East County Today isn’t one.
The East County Today News Blog has been repeatedly repudiated by local Civil Rights organizations for its depictions of negative African American stereotypes. Despite Mr. Burkholder’s new online policy regulations, The East County Today has damaged many ethnic minorities in Antioch both racially and psychologically. In March of 2021, a press conference was held by local Black leaders in front of Antioch City Hall urging local businesses not to advertise in the East County Today. The Antioch Unified School District was specifically censured for funding this notorious media outlet in the past. However by the summer of 2021, AUSD superintendent Stephanie Anello chose to ignore those admonishments and continue advertising district programs aimed at ethnic minorities in an outlet that has alienated that very demographic. This decision reeks of cultural insensitivity. It is also a total misappropriation of state dollars without the consent of the same marginalized communities that the monies are supposed to benefit. Giving funds to this blog only assists this platform in perpetuating racial stereotypes that harm the same students the funds are supposed to support! Superintendent Anello must be publicly held accountable for this blatant disregard of the sentiments of marginalized communities.
In the Antioch Unified School District according to the California Department of Education that 9 out of 10 African American students in this district are are NOT testing at proficiency in mathematics and 75% are testing below proficiency in English Language Arts. With African American students having the lowest graduation rates among any racial sub group in the district at 69% and of that number only 14% of them are eligible to go right into a four year university; we need every cent of LCAP funding to be appropriated to proven interventions that improve educational outcomes for targeted groups. For example, in West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) there is an entire office dedicated to African American Student Achievement. This intervention is LCAP funded and operated by Blacks who reside in that community and understand the issues of that district. The African Americans who are hired to work in that particular office are selected by a panel of Blacks who are trusted stakeholders in the community. The ethnic make up of WCCUSD is 16% African American, however Black students comprise 24% of AUSD and yet our dollars are still being allocated to local media outlets that serve as a propaganda machine for district objectives. AUSD needs more than a summer program for African American males, it needs year round intervention that is not co-opted and controlled by educators who have little or no community capital.
In conclusion, LCAP funds are interventions for the people and by the people. They are supposed to be used to address historic disparities and not accomplish private agendas. Public funds can not be used to create personal loyalties. Therefore, instead of allocating LCAP funds to Mike Burkholder and using his blog to attack opponents of Superintendent Anello, let’s try funding evidence-based interventions that will bring about true equity for all students. I urge elected school board officials to call out this misappropriation of funds and urge Superintendent Anello to focus less on district damage control and focus more on district quality control.