My School Had an Emergency Closure. Do I Need to File a J-13A Emergency Waiver?

By the EdTec Data Team

October 16, 2019

Between power outages, wildfires, and other natural disasters, there are many events that may result in unexpected school closures. Read on to learn if you need to complete a J-13A emergency waiver, and the steps you should take to make sure you’re in compliance with the State of California’s requirements.

If my school experiences an unexpected closure, what should I do?

Before completing a J-13A emergency waiver, there are a few things to consider. First, find out if the length of the closure ends up putting your school below the state’s annual instructional minutes and days requirement. You’ll also want to look at your charter petition to see if you have instructional minutes or days requirements beyond what the state mandates. If your instructional time doesn’t fall below either requirement, you can relax – you don’t need to complete a J-13A waiver.

However, what if the closure puts you below the requirements? Again, don’t panic – you have options! Your first option is to add days to your calendar and/or minutes to your bell schedule later in the year to recover the lost days/minutes resulting from the closure. If you go this route, you do not need to complete a waiver, although it is highly recommended that you get these calendar and bell schedule changes approved by your board. But if you prefer to keep your calendar and bell schedule as is, your second option is to complete a J-13A waiver. Simply completing the waiver isn’t enough; it must be signed by a majority of your board, and approved by your authorizer, the county, and the California Department of Education (CDE). Only after your waiver makes it through this multi-level approval process will the state allow your school to be below the instructional time requirements without penalty.

The J13-A waiver also has a material decrease option. But what does this option really mean? The material decrease option applies to schools that stay open during an emergency. If the event has an adverse impact on the school’s attendance, a school can use the material decrease option to substitute its attendance for the affected days with the school’s average daily attendance (ADA). This option is a bit unpredictable and may not actually be as beneficial as just removing the lost days and/or replacing them. This option is unpredictable because we don’t know exactly what you will get as your final replacement ADA until the CDE approves the waiver and then does calculations based on your attendance data. This is one of the reasons why the California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) recommends not filing the waiver unless you know you’re below the instructional minutes and days requirement.

If the emergency occurred before P-1, do I need to file the waiver before submitting my school’s P-1?

Not necessarily, but you should confirm your attendance data accurately reflects any changes caused by the unexpected closure before submitting your P-1 to ensure your ADA is correct.

It is important your school decides as soon as possible whether it wants to file the waiver or add more days to your schedule since you obviously can’t make additions to the calendar or schedule after the year is over. Although schools report days of instruction with the P-Annual at the end of the year and auditors verify instructional time requirements around the same time, it is best to file a waiver before P-2 so you know what your P-2 ADA will be without having to wait for an adjustment. Waivers filed after P-2 will lead to any ADA funding revisions processed as prior year adjustments and won’t be reflected until P-1 of the following year. Also keep in mind that CDE approval can take months, depending how many waivers are submitted.

Now that we’ve discussed the waiver, are there any other things to keep in mind?

Yes, don’t forget your Student Information System (SIS)! Each SIS is different but there should be a way to change days from school days to non-school days. Make sure to update your SIS to reflect any closure days and, if applicable, add any replacement days. You need to do this even if you do not file a J-13A waiver. If you’re still uncertain of what the process is like in your SIS, reach out to your EdTec data contact or your SIS support line.

In addition to updating your SIS, you’ll also need to update your school calendar showing closure days as non-school days. Any other changes such as days added as replacement should also be included in your school calendar update. It is also helpful to recalculate your instructional days/minutes, so you have an updated calculation available.

If you have additional questions about the J-13A waiver, don’t hesitate to reach out to your EdTec data contact. You can also find additional guidance from CDE’s J-13A website at https://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/formj13afaq.asp.

Local Indicators

Everything A California Charter School Leader Needs to Know About Local Indicators!

By Jennifer Reyes, Educational Support Services Manager

October 1, 2019

What are the Local Indicators?

The Local Indicators are indicators based on the Eight State Priorities included in a Local Education Agency’s (LEA’s) Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).  Unlike the state measures that are automatically calculated by state-captured data, the Local Indicators are calculated with data collected by each LEA.  After collecting the data, the school uses the California Department of Education (CDE) self-reflection tools to measure progress, and then reports the findings to its board and finally, to the public via the California School Dashboard.

The Due Date is Fast Approaching!

The due date for the Local Indicators to be uploaded to the California School Dashboard is November 1, 2019.  This is a couple of weeks earlier than last year, so be sure to set aside enough time for the self-reflection and board approval.

It may seem strange to have a reporting requirement that is out-of-sync with the cycle of the LCAP Annual Update.  But the CDE envisions that LEAs will do the work for Local Indicators as part of their annual LCAP reflection and updates.  It is just the reporting for Local Indicators that comes later in Fall, as it is aligned to the annual release of the California School Dashboard.  So, there is flexibility as to when in the year your school conducts the Local Indicators self-reflection, as long as you obtain board approval and upload to the California School Dashboard by the deadline.

Revision Alert: Revised Tool for Priority 3 -Family Engagement

Note the revised self-reflection tool in 2019 for Priority 3:  Family Engagement. This indicator was formerly called Parent Involvement and was revised this past year, after Assembly Bill (AB)2878 expanded the description of Parent Involvement to include family engagement.  AB2878 retained the requirement to address the following in the LCAP:

  • Seek parent input in making decisions for the school district and each individual school site
  • Promote parental participation in programs for unduplicated pupils and individuals with exceptional needs

It added the following:

Family engagement may include, but need not be limited to:

  • Efforts by the school district and each individual school site to apply research-based practices, such as welcoming all families into the school community, engaging in effective two-way communication, supporting pupil success, and empowering families to advocate for equity and access
  • Families as partners to inform, influence, and create practices and programs that support pupil success and collaboration with families and the broader community, expand pupil learning opportunities and community services, and promote civic participation.

CDE convened a workgroup for the project and ultimately composed a revised self-reflection tool to encompass the former and new components.  Previously, the tool had two options:  1) Summarizing key findings from a parent survey or 2) Reflecting on local measures relevant to seeking input from parents and promoting parents.  The new tool has three sections, and each uses a set of questions with a numeric rating scale, plus one narrative prompt.  The three sections are: 1.) Building relationships between school staff and families, 2.) Building partnerships for student outcomes, and 3.) Seeking input for decision-making.

Meeting the Requirements

When you input the Local Indicators through the California School Dashboard interface, you will select Standard Met, Standard Not Met, or Standard Not Met for Two or More Years, according to the criteria.  You meet the indicators by:

  1. Measuring progress annually
  2. Reporting results at a regularly scheduled public board meeting
  3. Publicly reporting results through the California School Dashboard

If you have completed steps one through three above, then you have met the indicator for that year and should select “Met.”  In other words, meeting the indicators does not depend on the contents of your self-ratings and reflection, but rather on the completion of the process of reflecting and reporting.

Accountability for Local Indicators

Local Indicators are included in the annual criteria for differentiated assistance:

  • The charter school fails to meet the Criteria for three or more student groups (or all the student groups if there are fewer than three student groups)
  • In regard to one or more state or school priorities identified in the charter
  • For three out of four consecutive school years

If identified for differentiated assistance, the authorizer may opt to provide support or request support from the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE).  The authorizer shall consider revocation for a school if, after support is provided, they determine that a) the charter is unwilling or unable to implement the CCEE recommendations or b) inadequate performance of the charter school, based on the Dashboard, is so persistent or acute as to require revocation. The authorizer must consider increase in pupil academic achievement for all student groups as the most important factor in determining whether to revoke a charter.  Charters may not appeal revocation.

Resources

It’s important that schools make time to fully understand the Local Indicators requirements and reserve enough time to complete all the steps appropriately.  The following resources are designed to help you understand and complete your 2019 Local Indicators:

Dashboard Coordinator Login:  https://coordinator.caschooldashboard.org/#/application

2019 Self-Reflection Tools:  https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/ac/cm/localindicators.asp

CDE LCFF/LCAP LISTERV: JOIN-LCFF-LIST@MLIST.CDE.CA.GOV

And check out EdTec’s informational video – we’ll walk you through the Local Indicators reporting process!

If you have questions or need assistance with your school’s Local Indicators, please reach out to Jennifer Reyes, EdTec’s Educational Support Services Manager.

LCAP Community Engagement

Engaging Stakeholders in Your School’s LCAP Development

By Jennifer Reyes, Ed.D., Educational Support Services Manager

September 9, 2019

Embrace Local Control

As one of the key pillars of California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), stakeholder engagement has a prominent section in the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP).  The idea behind LCFF is that Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) will have “local control” over the use of their funds through the combined input of parents, teachers, school leaders and staff, and other community partners.  At the district level, LCAP engagement efforts may not address school-specific concerns, but charter schools can easily align LCAP engagement with the goals and plans of their unique school community.

Create a Plan to Engage all Stakeholders

 According to Ed. Code, the LEA must “consult with teachers, principals, administrators, other school personnel, local bargaining units of the school district, parents and pupils” in developing the LCAP.  They must describe in the LCAP the steps they took to engage parents, pupils, and the community and how this engagement contributed to developing the LCAP.  The CDE is preparing to introduce a new LCAP template in the coming months, and the proposed template requires a description of how the engagement of each group impacted the current plan (see below for a screenshot).

Proposed New LCAP Stakeholder Engagement Section:

Leaders will need to be prepared with specific responses for the applicable groups.  This can be accomplished with a little bit of backwards planning.  For example, I may hope that by year’s end I would like to be able to state that my English Learner Parent Advisory Committee carefully reviewed the actions and services dedicated specifically to English Learners and made recommendations.  I can plan now for those committee agendas and surveys to include LCAP input.  I can do the same to ensure that LCAP is part of the agendas for board, parent, and staff meetings periodically throughout the year.

Avoid Information Overload

Now that I have planned LCAP engagement into the calendar of meetings for each stakeholder group, how do I make the information digestible?  What kind of input do I ask for?  Again, we can think ahead to the impact we would like each group to have in our LCAP development.  I might decide that I want all my parents, students, and staff to be able to articulate my school’s three big goals.  I want to be able to review data points with all three groups to keep them invested in achieving the goals.  Then with my advisory committees, perhaps I want to do a deeper dive into the curriculum or professional development initiatives.  I can select key components to review with each group instead of asking them to sift through the entire plan.

Make it Meaningful

 Hopefully your school has an LCAP that is well organized and aligned to your school’s mission and vision.  If not, you can redesign it.  The more the plan speaks to your community, the easier it will be to align it with the work you do and the conversations you already hope to have with all your stakeholders.  By taking a few steps now to set up the system of engagement for the year, you can ensure that you have much to say about the impact of your various groups on your school’s LCAP.