Bakersfield City School District cuts summer school; funds allocated to the program to pay for rise in costs of school services

February 21, 2019 /

Children living in the Bakersfield City School District will not be attending summer school this year after district officials cut the program to save money — a decision that is being criticized by education advocates.

District officials cut summer school, citing increasing costs for school services and low enrollment.

“We have to cut something because the funding that we have isn’t going to pay for what we need,” said Irma Cervantes, BCSD’s spokeswoman.

The cost for transportation and special education services, for example, have gone up, Cervantes said.

“Those are our priorities,” Cervantes said. “We have to get our kids to school and need to provide services to those with special needs.”

About $1.6 million is allocated to BCSD’s summer school program, according to the 2018-19 Local Control Accountability Plan, a three-year plan that outlines the goals, actions, services, and expenditures to support positive student outcomes that address state and local priorities.

Instead of funding summer school, the $1.6 million is going to cover the rise in costs for services, Cervantes said.

The district cut the program because it has continued to see a decrease in summer school enrollment. The district had more than 8,000 students enrolled in the four-week summer school program in 2016, but only 71 percent of those students completed the program.

Because of the low attendance, the district reduced the number of days of summer school. Last year, 5,357 students enrolled, however, only 54 percent of those students completed the 13-day program. BCSD’s student body consists of 30,000 students.

The district is taking this summer off to construct a summer school plan for future years that would encourage students to finish the program, Cervantes said.

Advocacy groups are concerned about the way the district made the decision. Advocates say the district can change the LCAP the same way it was created: through public comment and board approval.

BCSD made the announcement without public input or comment and did not present the decision to a parent advisory committee, according to Valentin Narvaez, an employee with the Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance.

“They can’t just verbally change that,” said Narvaez. “It sounds like that’s what they did. From what we have seen, there hasn’t been any formal revisions to the LCAP since June. We are confused to what is going on.”

However, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools said BCSD can make the revision to the LCAP based on data.

“School districts have the ability to change their LCAPs after the plan is approved by KCSOS,” said Rob Meszaros, the spokesperson for KCSOS. “The Local Control Funding Formula ensures local control. For example, as data becomes available, districts have an obligation to evaluate that data to determine the needs in the district and the effectiveness of current programs.”

“In this case, BCSD is able to amend its current plan, based on needs, data analysis, and/or adjustments based on district priorities,” Meszaros continued.

BCSD held a parent meeting Wednesday morning to discuss summer school. Cervantes said many parents attending the meeting accepted the reasons for cutting summer school.

“There were a lot of parents that stood up and recognized a lot of the responsibility is on them, and they knew they weren’t bringing their kids was a reason why we had to cut the program,” she said. “Parents weren’t taking advantage of a resource provided, and now we have a budget crises that needs to be taken care of.”

Districts are required to share any changes in their planned LCAP in the annual update each year, Meszaros said. These updates can be shared at board meetings, stakeholder meetings, and/or LCAP advisory committees meetings.

BCSD is holding an LCAP community forum Saturday at 9 a.m. at Sequoia Middle School, 900 Belle Terrace and at 10 a.m. at Stiern Middle School, 2551 Morning Drive.

For those who are unable to attend the forum, the district is taking input on an LCAP survey at BCSD.com.

Photo courtesy of El Popular News

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at elizabeth@southkernsol.org.