Rancho Santa Fe School District’s LCAP outlines goals for coming school year

The Rancho Santa Fe School District approved its Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) and budget for the 2017-18 school year over two special meetings on June 21 and June 22.

The LCAP is required by the state for the district to show how it will spend state funding from the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). Per the LCAP, in the 2016-17 school year all students met and exceeded all state indicators and showed increases in all groups and grade levels. Students demonstrated significant growth in math, science and English Language Arts on all state assessments (SBAC) and local assessments (MAP).

While California state performance indicators show Rancho Santa Fe performing in the blue highest performance category requiring “no need for improvement,” RSF School District Superintendent David Jaffe said an organization should always look for areas for growth. LCAP goals for 2017-18 include ensuring 100 percent of students show growth on their assessments; to improve the percentage of English learners at least one performance level; and to improve school-to-home communication and have more opportunities for parent engagement.

“This has been an incredible year for me,” Jaffe said, noting he capped his first year last week by attending the “sweetest” kindergarten promotion, fifth grade promotion and the eighth grade promotion, where parents and students are full of pride. “Those three events are what this school is about…To sit here in this seat, I’m humbled.”

As outlined in the plan, new for 2017-18, the district will be transitioning to a new data management system called Illuminate, which will help track student progress on an individual basis and give staff a tool to provide curriculum in an “exceptional” way. The district will also develop a strategic plan for the arts and implement a new middle school bell schedule that will provide more course opportunities and academic support throughout the day.

“It’s amazing how many people have approached me and expressed their delight in the new bell schedule,” said board member Scott Kahn. “I’ve heard nothing but positives from the community.”

As Superintendent Jaffe begins his second school year, he will embark on imitating an organizational review process to develop an action plan for all aspects of the school.

The comprehensive self-evaluation will be a process similar to the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation process that high schools, charter and private schools are required to go through — Jaffe has assisted in 13 different WASC processes and has led three, including nine visits to other schools to help evaluate their programs.

RSF School District President Todd Frank said the review process still seemed a little “undefined” to him and board member Tyler Seltzer wanted to ensure that the time spent on the review won’t just generate some grand, 1,000-page report but something useful for the district.

Jaffe assured them that it won’t be a 1,000 page dissertation and he plans to deliver an action plan for the district by December. In August, he will present the detailed plans for the organizational review.

“The power of it is in the process and people coming together and analyzing our programs,” Jaffe said. “We end up speaking the same language, we end up being advocates for the work that we do.”

At the June 22 meeting, the board also approved the 2017-18 budget, which will have a “small, planned” deficit for next year, with revenues of $11.55 million and expenditures of $11.77 million. The reserve balance is at $1.2 million.

The district will see a slight decrease in staffing next year — due to a different structure for paraprofessional aides the district will move from 100.22 full time equivalency (FTE) in 2016-17 to 96.12 FTE for 2017-18. Frank voiced concern about the reduction in FTE but Jaffe noted that there’s no loss of service, the level of service has actually improved as they have adjusted the system.

The school is also looking at a slight drop in enrollment, from 655 students in 2016-17 to 642 in 2017-18. Enrollment has decreased over the last 10 years from a high of 804 students in 2006-07.

Moving forward the RSF Education Foundation will contribute $1 million a year, plus $165,000 from the Endowment. The foundation contribution is a decrease of $300,000 a year — the lower contribution is a based on fewer district families and, additionally, the foundation did not meet its $1.3 million fundraising goal last year.

According to Barbara Edwards, foundation development director, the foundation has raised just over $1 million this year although fundraising does continue until June 30.

Edwards said she was encouraged that the foundation has seen 91 percent participation among new families and this year’s art auction was the most successful it has ever been, bringing in $70,000 (compared to $35,000 the year prior). The foundation has also tripled its revenue from community partnerships and doubled its in-kind donations, “that is a real bright spot for our future,” Edwards said.

The Rancho Santa Fe School Endowment Fund also reached $5 million this year and its second contribution to the school was made in the 2016-17 school year.

“Everybody is wowed by this school,” Edwards said, noting that it’s incumbent on them to convey the message of how significantly different the school would look like without the foundation’s support.