By Maureen Robertson
Trustees want more details before they approve how Ramona Unified School District will spend the nearly $1.2 million the state will provide to implement Common Core State Standards in language arts and math next school year.
The district has two years to spend the money, and it can only be used for professional development, instructional materials and technology, Theresa Grace, senior director of education services, told the trustees last Thursday. It amounts to about $200 per student, based on 2012-13 enrollment.
In her report on common core standards and funding, Grace said a steering committee with representatives of each school is developing a plan that “provides a clear road map” to execute the new academic standards. The committee held its first meeting in the district board room Monday afternoon.
The state requires districts to present plans at a public meeting of the school board and adopt the plan at a later meeting. Detailed spending information is due to the California Department of Education on or before July 1, 2015.
“The plan needs to come before the money approval,” said Trustee Rodger Dohm. “...I can’t in good conscience approve something without a plan. It just doesn’t make sense...I want to make sure we’re doing it right."
Dohm, a supporter of the more rigorous and indepth learning associated with common core standards, said the district has time and does not need to rush.
“We’ve been asking for a long time to get to this spot,” and the district needs to reorganize and restructure how it teaches students, he said.
This approach to education started in the late 1990s and “nothing happened,” Dohm said, adding he doesn’t want to see that happen again.
“How do we hold staff — that’s teachers and administrators — accountable at the site so it’s really happening?” he asked.
The pendulum in education “just goes back and forth,” he said, with a history of “OK, we’re going to give up now, we’re going to do something else.”
A teacher, Dohm said he doesn’t want to see the district’s efforts wasted.
“We want to know all the little details, because we’re accountable to the public,” he said.
Superintendent Robert Graeff calls common core “one of the most important curricular initiatives in the past 15 years in public education.”
“The new standards adopted by California provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them,” he said in his board meeting highlights available online at ramonausd.net. “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”
The National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers designed the internationally benchmarked standards that 45 states have adopted, Grace said.
“We need to produce students who are competitive in an international market for college and careers,” she said. “These standards provide a quality of education in the United States that is parallel to other nations.”
Her proposed budget to implement the standards in Ramona is:
•55 percent, or $595,000, for Staff Development—training in the areas of reading, writing, math, science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
•15 percent, or $225,000, for Technology — increased bandwidth, baseline wireless at all sites and installation costs.
•13 percent, or $150,000, for Instructional Materials to support core content areas.
•11 percent, or $130,000, for Site Specific Technology — hardware upgrades and mobile devices.
•6 percent, or $73,000, for indirect costs.
A copy of Grace’s report is available on the district’s website.