DUSD’s Proposed 2017-18 Budget Includes $1 Million to DECA Expansion, New Textbooks

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Fast-growing Denair Elementary Charter Academy will add classrooms for its expanding dual-immersion program and students across the district will benefit from new textbooks under a proposed 2017-18 budget discussed Thursday night by school officials.

The $15.7 million spending plan projects the use of more than $1 million in so-called “one-time funds” received from the state over the past few years.

Linda Covello, chief business officer for the Denair Unified School District, said about $415,000 will go toward purchase and installation of up to 10 portable classrooms at DECA in time for the 2018-19 school year.

The elementary campus must add two classes each year for students in the dual-immersion program, which teaches children in Spanish and English. It started at the kindergarten level in 2015-16 and expands to each grade level as the first students advance.

Another $430,000 in the proposed budget will be directed toward the purchase of new textbooks in Spanish, English language arts and math across the district, Covello said. About $120,000 will be used to replace two computer labs at DECA and $100,000 will buy eight to 10 Chromebook carts (portable computers used across the district).

“We really want to expand our programs to entice students to come to the district,” Covello said.

The one-time funds have accumulated the past three years, she said. By law, they cannot be spent on ongoing expenses such as employee salaries.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander said rather than increasing overall funding for education, Gov. Jerry Brown has preferred to give districts one-time funds if the state has “extra” money at the end of its fiscal year.

Denair’s proposed 2017-18 budget anticipates an Average Daily Attendance of 1,279 students, an increase of 16 students from this year. ADA is the basis for state funding. Projections are for 2% attendance growth in 2018-19 and 3% in 2019-20.

“We’re full in TK (transitional kindergarten) and kindergarten next year, which is promising,” Covello told trustees. “Expanding the elementary school is a huge push. We’re growing there and the other sites are no longer declining.”

The proposed budget is about $1.7 million more than the district will spend this year, Covello said. Other than the one-time funds, the rest of the difference is reflected in raises given to employees and additional contributions by the district to their pension systems.

In addition to the budget, there also was a public hearing on the Local Control Accountability Plan, which is “the narrative that explains how the money we spend is used to meet the district’s goals,” said Covello. Each district is required to submit an annual LCAP to the state.

Denair’s LCAP shows it has one of the lowest student suspension rates in California as well as one of the highest graduation rates for white students.

Its areas of greatest need, according to state metrics, are improving math and English test scores districtwide. The Latino graduation rate of 79.5% mirrors the state average and also is a target for improvement. A new program called Parents for Quality Education will be rolled out this year to educate parents in their native language about the importance of being a part of their child’s learning experiences.

In other action, trustees voted 4-0 (with John Plett absent) to:

  • Approve hiring teachers with one-year provisional internship permits if more experienced instructors can’t be found. Denair is not alone; there is a shortage of teachers across the state.
  • Allow Denair Middle School students who meet testing standards to take high school math or English courses for credit. DMS students also can enroll in FFA and Supervised Agriculture Experience classes at Denair High School, which will allow them to show animals at the county fair. That is consistent with new FFA rules in California pertaining to younger FFA members.
  • Open up a pathway for independent-study students at Denair Charter Academy to take online courses approved by the University of California system. Principal Brian LaFountain said there are 307 courses available, 32 of which are certified by the UC system for potential applicants.
  • Add a third year of math to graduation requirements for DCA students.
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