San Mateo County schools this week received its portion of a second round of $1.25 billion in state funding to help the transition to new Common Core Standards, which includes more classroom technology and computer-based testing.
The amount allocated varies by district and its student population. The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, the county’s largest school district by student population, received a total of $2.3 million. The San Carlos Elementary School District received $132,635 for its comprehensive schools and lesser amounts for its charter schools.
The first half of implementation funds went out to districts across the state in September and the second half — about $622 million — went out Tuesday. The districts can decide themselves how to use the funds, be it for teacher training, new materials or to purchase technology, all with the purpose of implementing the curriculum. Districts must spend the money by June 30, 2015.
The new Common Core standards shift to more project-based and team collaborative learning. There is also the new Smarter Balance testing, which aligns with these new standards, that will go into effect during the 2014-15 school year. Since 1998, California school districts had spent a significant amount of time preparing for Standardized Testing and Reporting tests.
The funding is really important for implementing Common Core, said Nancy Magee, administrator for board support and community relations at San Mateo County Office of Education. The transition should take a couple years, she said.
“It’s important we’re getting it at all,” Magee said. “You can’t completely restructure the way instruction works without rolling out resources. It’s really good it’s here. It’s not something you can just push a button for. This also makes it so schools aren’t able to say ‘we can’t afford to do this.’”
The funds went out as an allocation formula on a per-pupil basis based on October 2012 enrollment figures. The first allocation was $200 per pupil. The second allocation was about $200.96 per pupil, said Tina Jung, spokeswoman for the California Department of Education.
The South San Francisco Unified School District just learned it would receive $372,384 for the 2013-14 school year. It received $1.489 million in funding for the 2012-13 school year, so its total final entitlement is $1.861 million. The school board looked at a spending plan at its Nov. 7 meeting, but decided to push off action on it until Dec. 12 to allow for specific details on the plan, said Superintendent Alejandro Hogan.
“We’re happy that there is still some money to do this,” he said. “It’s not enough, but we’re enhancing that with other sources. The model is to train the trainers for the Common Core.”
The district will need more one-to-one devices for students, he said. Proposition 30, the sales and income tax increase initiative which raises about $6 billion annually for education and other state programs, is helping with Common Core implementation as well, he said.
Meanwhile, the San Mateo Union High School District received $331,347 in its latest funding round, totaling $1.656 million in funding received from the state. The district currently is planning to spend $900,000 of that money on professional development for teachers, $200,000 for instructional materials and $500,000 for technology, mainly on infrastructure such as bandwidth and on some hardware, said Cynthia Clark, director of curriculum and assessment for the district.
“We gathered input from principals and put it together into an overall plan,” she said. “We’ve found the bulk of it will go to professional development. As teachers are creating more of their own lessons, there will be costs for copying teacher-created curriculum lessons.”
She added the district is very fortunate to have other sources to finance the change. In terms of technology, Measure O will help support technology infrastructure, including adding Wi-Fi to all campuses and new computers to support the new assessment. It is currently piloting devices. It doesn’t want to just buy computers across the board, she said.
The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District received $460,445 this last funding period, for a total of $2.3 million.
“We were expecting this amount for our second apportionment. Our Common Core plan is currently under development,” Mary Kay Going, assistant superintendent of Education Services, said in a statement. “We will use the funds in a combination of ways including technology, professional development and some instructional materials.”
The latest block of funds for the Redwood City Elementary School District brought its total final entitlement to $1.85 million. It received $370,173 in the second batch of funds. At the school board’s Sept. 25 meeting, it approved a Common Core expenditure plan. There will be $1.1 million going to hardware, such as laptops and iPads, $440,000 to personnel, $167,540 for staff development and $120,000 for materials and resources. There will be some revisions to this plan in December, said Naomi Hunter, director of communications for the district.
Other schools in the Daily Journal coverage area also received funding. The Sequoia Union High School District received $1.656 million total over the two years. Charter schools each receive a specified chunks of money separate from the $1.656 million, whereas the other comprehensive high schools in the district receive money from the general district pot. For example, the East Palo Alto Academy got $48,834 total.
The Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District has received $724,872 total while the San Bruno Park Elementary School District came away with $539,786 total. Millbrae Elementary School District received $477,085 total, Burlingame Elementary School District received $610,324 total and Hillsborough City Elementary School District received $306,066 total.
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