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School Success Express is opportunity to grow


Watch a video about the School Success Express visit to Cherokee PointOn Nov. 9, about 200 parents, students and school staff gathered on a Saturday morning to learn about how school funding is changing – and its impact on City Heights.
The event educated parents and the community, as well as school and district staff and administrators about a simplified funding formula that the state will implement during the next several years, called the Local Control Funding Formula.
"What it's basically recognizing is that the schools with kids with the highest needs, that's where you need to direct the bulk of the resources," said Richard Barrera, a San Diego Unified School District board member.


The event started with the School Success Express, a bus covered in graphics with information about the funding change, taking residents from Monroe Clark Middle School and Hoover High School to Cherokee Point Elementary. After some introductory information about the funding change and a short video, parents, students and staff volunteered ideas about how to improve education. Attendees also filled out comment cards that went to the district and state officials.


"The parents were engaged," said Godwin Higa, principal of Cherokee Point Elementary School. "They gave the district personnel some very good suggestions."
The suggestions ranged from increasing specific funding of school programs to strengthening the personal connections between teachers and students.
"I was able to speak for youth and for my school and be able to explain the issues that students go through at school," said Leslie Renteria, 16, a Hoover High School student and City Heights resident. "Having teachers ask us 'How are we? How are our families? How are our classes?' [that] motivate us to attend school and attend our classes."
Learning about the change brought other young people to the event.
"What I learned today is [about] funding that is going to come to our schools," said Angeli Hernandez, 20, who was there with her 8-year-old sister, Anarali. This is important "not only for schools like my sister's elementary, but also middle and high school students."
The California Endowment grouped the feedback it got from 11 of the 12 sites it visited across the state into these three categories.
• Community stakeholders need access to power and information
• Students must be part of the decision-making process
• Students need to be healthy and ready to learn

The Endowment has not yet included feedback from its final stop in Del Norte in its draft report.
Feedback like this makes the whole process work, said San Diego Unified Superintendent Cindy Marten.
"When you get a state doing the right thing, it is dependent upon the communities doing the right thing," she said.
Marten said the funding change would be especially powerful in the area.
"City Heights is the heart of where we can actually show and be a model for the state about how to impact in a collective way the lives of our students," she said. "City Heights is already so connected. We come together and begin to think about how we grow what we are already doing well. ... So now we can use this to take the things that we know are working to scale."
Principal Higa also saw the funding change as a huge opportunity.
"This is just the beginning," Principal Higa said. "This is the start of getting parents involved and the schools involved in making really good decisions that will affect student achievement."

On Nov. 9, about 200 parents, students and school staff gathered at Cherokee Point Elementary to learn about the Local Control Funding Formula.

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