Leadership magazine March/April 2018 V47 No. 4 - Page 12

What is ‘meaningful’ stakeholder engagement and how can we facilitate it? While the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control and Accountability Plans require ‘meaningful engagement’ of stakeholders, a three- year study finds few districts engaging a wide range of individuals and groups in the process. 12 Leadership The Local Control Funding For- mula (LCFF) ushered in a new era of ac- countability in California in 2013. In ad- dition to redistributing funding in new and more f lexible ways, the policy called for “meaningful engagement” of stakeholders in developing Local Control and Accountabil- ity Plans (LCAP) and in the school district budgeting process. The law and its regulations require dis- tricts to solicit input from representative groups and advisory committees. It recom- mends involvement from parents, students, teachers, administrators and other school personnel, including those representing the needs of target groups such as foster youth, English language learners and low- income students. Implicit in this policy is an understanding that local voices are critical for informing district goal-setting and resource allocation decisions and that greater transparency and involvement can support equity and better outcomes for students. All over the state, principals and superintendents are wrestling with the LCFF, asking: “What does mean- ingful engagement look like?” In an effort to address this question, and many others reported elsewhere, our research team – the LCFF Research Collaborative – set out to understand how local districts implemented this stakeholder engagement mandate. From 2014 to 2016, we visited more than 24 districts, which were selected to rep- resent state variation in size, geographic loca- tion and student demographics. We interviewed more than 350 central office administrators, school board mem- bers, union representatives, parents, teach- ers, principals and civic leaders. We believe the insights gleaned from our research are useful to educators as they consider how to engage stakeholders. We first provide some high-level findings and conclude with a set of ref lective questions to guide leaders in furthering community engagement efforts. What have we found in our research? Overall, we found that few districts en- gaged stakeholders broadly and deeply, that three conditions help explain richer com- munity engagement, and that improvements are occurring. 1. Few districts engaged stakeholders By Julie A. Marsh and Kate E. Kennedy