Advocacy groups and school officials are holding public forums on a new funding formula for schools, hoping the community will voice opinions on how future revenue should be spent.
The next events will be Thursday night at Frank Intermediate and Larsen schools in Oxnard.
On Tuesday, a group of teachers, students, parents and administrators met at the South Oxnard Community Center to discuss school needs after years of deep cuts.
Lucas Zucker, a researcher and youth organizer for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy, which hosted the forum, said that for the first time in years, districts do not face the prospect of slashing budgets.
“It’s more important than ever for you to get involved to say how your school should spend your money,” Zucker, 23, told participants.
In the Hueneme School District, the new funding formula drew full-house crowds to meetings that began in October and continue through the end of the month. Hueneme school board member Vianey Lopez said that even though districts won’t decide on spending plans until spring, the community should speak out now.
“That way, we’re not scrambling at the end,” Lopez said.
Last year, California voters approved Proposition 30, which increased taxes to halt school cuts that began in 2008. Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan, public schools will receive more money every year through 2020, and schools with higher concentrations of low-income students and students who don’t speak English will receive the most.
At the forum hosted by the alliance and other advocacy groups, participants identified dozens of needs in Oxnard and Port Hueneme schools. At the top of that list is class size reduction, more counselors and more English Language Learners programs.
Guadalupe Chavez, a father of two, said he would like more nurses hired so every campus has one. He said a nurse often travels among schools to tend to sick students.
Soledad Barragan, a mother of three, said she would like more counselors and tutors. In general, Barragan said, she supports a formula that gives schools with the most need the most money but has concerns.
“I like the idea, but I’m worried about the implementation,” she said in Spanish through a translator. “I want to make sure districts use the money on students.”
Before any school board can consider how to use the new funding, local officials must get spending guidelines, which are due out from Sacramento early next year.
“I wish the government would share with us their guidelines now,” Oxnard School District Superintendent Cesar Morales said at the forum. “Obviously in this room, everyone’s ready to go.”