La Cañada Unified School District must work on personalizing the state's newly required Local Control and Accountability Plan this year.

The school board on Tuesday approved the first reading of an LCAP template as a way to get the conversation started on funding goals. According to La Cañada Unified Supt. Wendy Sinnette, the district plans to use the rest of 2014 to color in its LCAP outline.

"This is really a cookie-cutter board policy," Sinnette said. "I felt it important to go on the record now with a standard template. That way, we have something to revise based on feedback."

The new rubric is part of Gov. Jerry Brown's overhaul of California's school funding system. Beginning this fiscal year, the state will shift toward a Local Control Funding Formula that increases funding for school districts with high-need demographics, including low-income students and English language learners.

The plans must specify how LCUSD will address its high-need demographics, however the state will not release a grading rubric for LCAPs until October.

Board Vice President Andrew Blumenfeld emphasized going beyond the required plan, using the example of gaining more parent involvement in the English Language Advisory Committee.

"I don't think anyone's worried we won't meet the standards of the (state Board of Education)," Blumenfeld said. "I just think we should use this to think of ways to leverage this as a tool for positive momentum. This represents a real opportunity for us to use the LCAP as an anchor for all the work we can do and all money aligned to that work and all the ways the community can be involved."

As part of the funding overhaul, La Cañada Unified is required to adopt a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan detailing how it will spend state funds by July 1.

La Cañada Unified receives nearly $25 million — or about 68% — of its budget this fiscal year from the state's funding formula. The district will not get a big jolt of funding from the new scheme, largely because its demographics do not reflect those favored by the formula.

Board members also announced Tuesday that Mark Evans is the district's new chief business and operations officer. The 26-year education veteran comes from Castaic Union School District in Valencia, where he has been director of fiscal services since 2009.

Evans takes over a role vacated since November, when former officer Ruben Rojas resigned for a cabinet-level position with the governor.

"We have gone so long without a position that it has intensified our needs over the past year to find the right candidate," Sinnette said. "So, yes, we are very grateful that Mark has agreed to join our team."

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NATALIE WHEELER is a freelance writer. She can be reached at wheeler.nat@icloud.com.

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