STORY BY TOMOKI CHIEN, PHOTO BY ARYA NASIKKAR
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The Mountain View–Los Altos Union High School District board approved its latest Local Control Accountability Plan, a goal setting and budgeting document for school districts on June 21.
The LCAP lays out broad goals for the next three years which include ensuring equitable access to high-quality education, increasing community engagement and offering wellness and mental health support.
All local educational agencies in California — which include public schools, county offices of education and charter schools — are required to adopt an LCAP on a three year cycle.
The LCAP is part of a state education funding model known as the Local Control Funding Formula, which essentially ensures that schools receiving state funds budget the money in a way that aligns with state and community priorities; a large part of adopting each LCAP includes revising after meeting with various stakeholder groups across the district.
Each LCAP allocates a portion of the education agency’s budget to specific actions expected to help achieve those goals.
An LCAP must also offer target metrics that can track progress in reaching those goals, which in theory holds educational agencies accountable to goals they set and the funds they use to get there.
A key goal outlined by the district’s LCAP continues to be to ensure “academic excellence for all,” by offering equitable, high-quality education.
The district’s 2017 LCAP identified many of the same problems acknowledged in the 2021 document, specifically lagging GPAs, low math grades and failure to meet A–G requirements in the Latino, students with disabilities, English learner and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.
Key remedies to those inequities include continuing to offer credit recovery and summer school options as well as intervention services, which target students at risk of not graduating with additional academic support within or even after the school day — that can be done within a student’s assigned classroom or in a separate room specifically for support instruction.
Offering internet access, Chromebooks, exam fee support, academic counseling, mental health services and “culturally relevant education” are also stated actions.
“Many of our classes have a Euro-centered view of the world when half of our students do not see themselves reflected in the point of view,” the LCAP reads. “Teachers will increase the amount of culturally diverse texts, lessons, and materials they use in the curriculum. This is partially supportive for our [English learners and foster youth] because they historically are our students of color.”
One part of that could include the district’s planned ethnic studies course, which is set to make its debut in 2022.
The LCAP offers a number of metrics for determining success in ensuring academic excellence, some of which include higher scores on state assessments; an increase in the percentage of students completing A–G requirements; higher GPAs in Algebra I; and a higher percentage of student body enrollment in Advanced Placement courses.
Specific metrics can be found starting on page 11 of the LCAP.
A separate goal titled “life long learners” — which details supports for teachers — goes hand in hand with the goal of “academic excellence for all.”
Of a number of actions, the LCAP lists a “teacher induction program,” in which new teachers are paired with a mentor from the instructional support team, specifically to help teachers focus on supporting at-risk students.
The district also plans to continue offering professional development opportunities, including “anti-bias/anti-racism” training.
Increasing stakeholder communication and engagement is another goal, similarly created with equity in mind. The district hopes that by increasing community engagement — specifically with parents of at-risk students — chronic absenteeism, dropouts and suspensions will decrease, while graduation rates increase.
Another part of that includes working closely with the Mountain View Whisman and Los Altos school districts to align common practices, which in theory ensures that rising ninth graders transition into high school as smoothly as possible.
The recently appointed community outreach specialist should play a large role in that.
The only goal on the LCAP not explicitly tied to equity relates to safety and wellness, specifically mental health support.
“Effectively using data to identify specific student needs and connecting them to the appropriate resources/services is necessary to ensure their access to standards-aligned instruction and support them in becoming college and career-ready,” the LCAP reads.
A key part of that is the newly created intake coordinator position, which will be responsible for assessing and directing mental health referrals to the correct support — whether that be therapists, administrators or school counselors.
The district had previously contracted with the Community Health Awareness Council to offer an intake coordinator, but Wellness Coordinator William Blair said in an email that the district decided to transition to doing so internally.
A sizable portion of the funds — some $1.1 million — are also slated to go toward providing mental health services to students through counselors and therapists.
“To strengthen this work in mental health, we will better define our roles, practices, protocols and services within our clinical team,” the LCAP reads.