State hasn't clarified language concerning small school funding

The future of McCloud High School lies in the hands of state legislators who are still working to finalize language regarding Necessary Small Schools and how they might be funded in years to come. Superintendent Mike Matheson told board members Sue Tavalero, Margaret DeBortoli, Jana Blevins, Gregg Gunkel, John Hines and Jay Clark last week that McCloud High is funded this year through the “hold harmless” clause. However, next year’s NSS funding is still undetermined under the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula. If McCloud isn’t funded next year, the district would lose approximately $300,000 in funding. During the Dec. 11 meeting, which took place at McCloud High, Matheson said the district doesn’t want to close the school, and they certainly don’t want to close it if the state decides to continue funding it as an NSS. “It is an important component of the McCloud community,” Matheson said. The Siskiyou Union High School District hopes to have specific language and the state’s final decision regarding rural schools before March 15 so they can “make a decision with all information,” Matheson said. March 15 is the last day school districts may issue lay off notices to teachers, he explained. Under the new LCFF, which is in its first year, schools receive per-pupil base grants, used to support the basic costs of instruction and operations. Supplemental grants are given to schools based on their demographics. For instance, schools with more English learners, foster children or economically disadvantaged students receive extra funding from the state. However, language in the legislative draft is a problem for small rural schools like McCloud, since the new law changes the requirements for Necessary Small Schools and transfers ability to declare an NSS from Siskiyou County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters to the State Superintendent of Schools. Under this new language, small schools that have less than 100 students and are less than 10 miles from another school may no longer be designated as an NSS. Matheson told the board last week that the state is researching rural schools and recently asked for information including the square mileage of Necessary Small School districts. No changes Sue Tavalero and Margaret DeBortoli were selected to continue serving as board president and vice president, respectively. Jay Clark will continue as board clerk. Meetings will remain at 4 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at rotating campuses in alphabetical order. Co-Ed Bathroom Bill During public comment, Bill Hofer and Steve Hart asked the board to place an action item on the agenda to write a letter to legislators asking them to repeal AB 1266, dubbed by some the “Co-Ed Bathroom Bill.” According to the text of the legislation, the law is meant to give transgender students equal rights to school programs and facilities, regardless of their birth gender. Those opposed to the law believe it will force co-ed locker rooms and bathrooms, and that it infringes on the privacy of other students. Matheson said at this point, the board has not taken any position on AB 1266, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on Aug. 12 and is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1. Instead, they are “focusing on implementing the laws of the state of California.” Next meeting The board will meet next on Jan. 8 at 4 p.m. at Mount Shasta High School’s library.