RSF District surveys parents, hosts open forums on LCAP

The Rancho Santa Fe School District is working to gather input on its Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). The document is required by the state for the district to show how it will spend state funding from the Local Control Funding Formula but it also provides an account of the district’s goals, vision and values.

More than just checking off boxes, Superintendent David Jaffe wants the LCAP to truly illustrate what the district is, such as its robotics team that competed well against the top programs in the world, the gigantic cast of RSF Players performing in “Bye Bye Birdie” last week, and eighth grade students serving as leaders and sharing their knowledge with younger peers at Science Discovery Day.

At an April 25 parent forum, Jaffe said he gets excited about this work, to assess the goals passed on from year to year and to use the document as a guide to move the district forward.

Based on input received, the revised goals for 2018-19 LCAP include curriculum and assessment, student achievement, school climate, communication and stakeholder engagement.

Addressing stakeholder engagement, principal’s coffees have been held and a school climate survey was sent out last week. The survey is similar to the one given last year but more questions have been added about homework, an area of concern in last year’s results.

The survey also offers parents an opportunity to share input about specific program areas and includes questions on how often parents have visited the school to address a concern and how satisfied they were with the school’s responsiveness.

The results will be discussed at the next LCAP parent forum on Wednesday, May 23 at 8:15 a.m.

The district is also working on improving the school website and a new communications plan.

“I really hope to not hear again in the paper that there’s a lack of transparency,” Jaffe said. “There is not a lack of transparency. My door is open to anyone in the community. We are a small school, 643 kids in grades K-8. We have a ton to celebrate, we have nothing to hide. And there’s a whole lot of input we can get from the community to help drive us moving forward.”

In curriculum, Jaffe said they are looking to add more STEM-focused programs and activities such as coding; in the area of assessment, he said they are looking at deeper measures than just test scores to mark student achievement.

The district will also be reviewing its character development curriculum for 2018-19. Jaffe said they are looking into Sanford Harmony, a free social and emotional learning program from National University, as well as a program from the Anti-Defamation League.

In the open forum, parents in attendance expressed their concerns about topics such as appropriate use of school technology, homework and the budget.

Jaffe said there are always concerns about how resources are allocated and noted that the district’s budget will be available for public inspection June 5-7. There will be a public hearing and the budget will be adopted at the board’s regular meeting on June 14 at 5 p.m.

One parent said she wasn’t aware that there was an existing character development program at the school. She suggested that there be better communication about what aspects are being taught in the classroom so she can emphasize it at home.

Jaffe said it was a well-received comment as there are a number of programs that teachers do in the classroom every day but they don’t necessarily advertise or always talk about them.

In the elementary school classrooms they use the Second Step program to teach students skills for learning, empathy and emotion management. Students learn to understand and identify feelings, respect differences and show empathy, care and compassion. Students also learn methods to calm down strong feelings such as deep breathing and self-talk.

“I think that’s one of the greatest growth areas of this district, to make sure that we all understand the school story, what it is that we do here so we’re all talking the same language,” Jaffe said.

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