600346_633950930316_970924197_nBig changes are coming to California schools, and too few people know about them. That’s why The California Endowment is organizing the School Success Express, a bus tour and series of 12 community forums focused on the state’s new Fair School Funding law that brings more money, more local control and new priorities to districts statewide.

Join the community forum: See details below

As of July, California has a whole new system for funding its schools that is formally called the Local Control Funding Formula. When lawmakers approved the new approach in June, most headlines focused on the fact that the law sends more money to high-needs schools serving students who are low-income, English learners and foster youth. But other parts of the law are equally important. They spell out eight new priority areas that every district will be required to address, expanding beyond test scores to include areas such as student engagement, positive learning environments and parent involvement.

Another big change is local control ”“ both for school districts and residents. Districts will have much more flexibility in spending dollars from the state, but in doing so, they must have more community involvement in setting priorities and developing budgets.

As a health foundation, we care about this issue for two important reasons. First, we see the new law as an opportunity to highlight the essential role that student health plays in academic achievement. Children can’t focus and learn when they come to school hungry, struggling to breathe because of asthma, or traumatized by violence in their homes or communities. But when school leaders incorporate physical and social-emotional health in their approaches to student success, research shows attendance, achievement and graduation rates all go up.

Second, we know that high school graduation is an essential milestone on the path to a healthy and successful life. Today, 22% of California high school students don’t finish high school on time and we must do better.

Because the Fair School Funding law was approved quickly, many details are yet to be defined by the California State Board of Education and this fall is a crucial time for input. The School Success Express provides a much-needed opportunity for parents and students to make their voices heard about what they think local schools should be doing and how they can be included in decision-making processes. So let’s all get on the bus! We look forward to seeing you at the upcoming community forums and also in our online conversation via Twitter hashtag #FairEd4All
 
How do you think money should be spent at schools? You have a chance to tell education leaders how you would improve schools at a forum Monday, Oct. 28 from 6pm-8pm at Hollenbeck Middle School.
 
Mary Lou Fulton is Senior Program Manager of Schools at The California Endowment.

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