The LCAP provides an opportunity for LEAs to share their stories of how, what, and why programs and services are selected and provided to support positive student outcomes across a broad spectrum of areas. The LCAP is intended to capture the level and type of information that comprises a good strategic plan. It does not ask for details about specific actions or tasks; rather it focuses on strategic goals, progression of outcomes, and services and related expenditures based on local need. The key determinant of what makes a good LCAP is what happens after it is written. Ideally, the process for assessing needs, developing goals, identifying services, and creating a spending plan generates a sense of focus, purpose, and motivation to support the plan’s implementation.
Tips for Planning
- Understand the Key Requirements. All LEAs must use the SBE-adopted LCAP template. For districts and county offices of education, the LCAP must consider student needs in identified state-priority areas. Education Code Sections 52060 and 52066 specify that the LCAP must describe the annual goals to be achieved for each student group for each state priority. Goals must address each of the state priorities and any additional local priorities; however, one goal may address multiple priorities. An LEA may identify which school sites and subgroups have the same goals, and group and describe those goals together. If a single goal requires longer than one year to implement fully, the LCAP should reflect the annual incremental actions, services, and expenditures, as well as the annual anticipated progress that the district expects to achieve for each student group. These annual benchmarks will assist LEAs and the community to monitor the plan’s progress.The LCAP also requires that all LEAs describe how they are meeting “proportionality” requirements, which are related to demonstrating “increased or improved services” for students in need. Finally, the process for developing the LCAP must include input from stakeholders.
- Plan Ahead for LCAP Meetings. Education Code Sections 52062, 52069, and 47606.5 require that LEAs provide opportunities for consultation and comment when developing and updating their LCAPs. All LEAs must have their LCAPs prepared or updated, approved by their governing boards, and submitted with their annually required budgets, as necessary. For practical purposes this means that local governing boards must approve their LCAPs by June 30 of each year.
School districts and county offices of education must address the following key activities:
- Teachers, principals, administrators, other school staff, local bargaining units, parents, and students must be consulted to inform the LCAP’s development. The consultation could occur as part of the stakeholder engagement process.
- A parent advisory committee and an English learning parent advisory committee (if the LEA has 50 or more English learners, or if they comprise 15 percent or more of the student enrollment) must be formed to provide advice about the LCAP. These advisory committees can be newly formed or draw from existing parent advisory groups, but they must include representation of students in need (e.g., low income, English learners, and foster youth). The designated advisory groups may provide written comments to the superintendent, and the superintendent must respond to these comments in writing.
- There are at least two public meetings where the LCAP is shared, along with the formal LEA budget. The first meeting is a public hearing that allows for recommendations and comments from the public about the LCAP and budget. The second meeting is when the LCAP and budget are adopted. While it is possible to call a special meeting for the LCAP and budget, in the interest of public transparency and support of stakeholder engagement, using meetings that follow the regularly scheduled cycle can be helpful. Governing boards that meet monthly may find it necessary to hold their first meeting in May.
Charter schools are expected to complete the LCAP and consult with teachers, principals, administrators, other school personnel, parents, and students in developing their LCAPs. Although charter schools are not subject to the public hearing requirements that districts and county offices of education must comply with, they are subject to the hearings and reviews that must occur to approve and reauthorize a charter school petition.
- Develop a Process with the LCFF Design Principles in Mind. Good plans are well written and identify a meaningful direction to improve. Great plans do this plus reflect a process that generates stakeholder interest and leads to the plan’s implementation. The LCFF’s design principles provide a helpful framework to create a great LCAP.
- Simplicity and Transparency. The LCFF changes California from having the most complicated funding formulas to one of the simplest. Simplicity is helpful to support transparency. The LCAP is meant to be a document that reflects a simple, yet complete story of needs, goals, services, and investments that will yield positive outcomes for students. The LCAP should contain the big picture, include important facts, support further inquiry, and provide a logical reflection of how resources are used to support positive student outcomes.
- Equity. The LCFF has also changed California’s funding formula to provide funding based on current students and their needs. The LCAP requires an analysis of data, goals, services, and expenditures that reflect the needs of all students, especially those with additional needs. The LCAP requests that there is a clear understanding of what is provided to all students. In addition, information about what is provided for students with additional needs, based on income, language ability, family circumstance, and other factors, is expected to be clear and reflected in services and expenditures.
- Performance. The LCFF and the LCAP are about performance based on local decision- making. The state has identified priority areas, which it expects will guide local analysis and decisions about how to address needs and demonstrate improvement. Improving student performance is central to the LCFF and emphasized throughout the LCAP.
- Flexibility to Support Effective Decision-Making. Flexibility is an essential element of the LCFF. Flexibility allows for resource allocation choices that align to local needs. Flexibility is not the permission to do anything; it is the vehicle to pursue what is needed, based on locally determined priorities and needs.
- Create a Productive Engagement Process. As noted above, there are required parent advisory groups and groups that should be consulted to inform the LCAP, and hopefully, these groups are productive. Leaders of LEAs set a tone for how these groups are involved, and the types of questions and expectations asked of the groups will inform how valuable they are to the process. The LCAP is an opportunity to shift from superficial involvement of stakeholders to meaningful engagement. (See Stakeholder Engagement Tips for more details.)
- Make the LCAP Parent-Ready. When preparing the LCAP, the expectation should be that it will be read, understood, and liked. Parents and community members are a critical audience. With this in mind, the information in the LCAP should provide a simple, brief, coherent story of the goals for the educational agency, what will be different/improved for students when these goals are achieved, and what services and investments will be critical to support this outcome for students. The writing of the LCAP should resemble the kind of language and approach taken to prepare LEA strategic plans, which are generally brief with limited jargon, and every word reflects what the LEA needs, who it is, and what it will do that matters.
LEAs may find the following tips and resources useful as they develop their LCAPs. The information does not represent requirements or directions endorsed by the California Department of Education (CDE) or California State Board of Education (SBE). The provided information reflect emerging practices that can be considered, but are not intended to be interpreted as providing instructions or guidance from CDE or SBE.
American Civil Liberties Union – Southern California: LCFF Planning Resources
California Alliance for Arts Education: LCFF Toolkit
California Foster Youth Education Task Force: LCFF Fact Sheet
California Foster Youth Education Task Force: LCAP Planning Advice
California School Boards Association: LCFF Toolkit