S2E6: Advancing Equity Through Locally Driven Funding Formulas: LAUSD's Groundbreaking Student Equity Need Index (the "SENI")
Download this episode’s companion brief: Student Equity Need Index
In this episode, host Jason Willis talks about the Student Equity Need Index (SENI) with Pedro Salcido, Deputy Superintendent of Business Services and Operations for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and Jessenia Reyes, Associate Director of K–12 Policy for the Equity Team at Catalyst California.
The SENI is an example of a powerful partnership between students, parents, community advocates, and school district leaders to drive resource equity. The SENI is a research-based index that uses comprehensive academic and community-based indicators to rank schools from highest to lowest according to student need. With these rankings, the LAUSD can more accurately understand the needs of its schools and equitably distribute funds to address them. It can be seen as a robust precursor to the state’s new Equity Multiplier, which was adopted in the 2023 Budget Act to target some additional funding directly to schools.
The SENI came about in response to California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). When the LCFF was established to advance equity 10 years ago, education and community leaders in the state’s largest school district, LAUSD, recognized this new formula might not adequately address deeply rooted inequities within its student population. Through a unique partnership between the local community and school district, the SENI was born.
In the episode, Salcido and Reyes share how the SENI was developed, how it evolved, the impact it has had to date, and how the district and community groups worked together and through some difficult tensions to build the system. While the SENI originated in California’s largest school district, it can be a model for districts around the state to learn from and potentially customize to better address their communities’ unique needs.
About Our Guest
Jessenia Reyes is the Associate Director of K–12 Policy at Catalyst California, a systems change nonprofit organization. Reyes is also part of the Equity Alliance for L.A.’s Kids, which includes Community Coalition in South Los Angeles, InnerCity Struggle in East Los Angeles, and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which advocated for the SENI.
Pedro Salcido is the Deputy Superintendent of Business Services and Operations for LAUSD, the state’s largest school district and the second-largest in the nation. Before his current role, Salcido served as Chief of Staff managing all District academic and nonacademic operations, activities, and initiatives. Salcido also served as the superintendent’s principal liaison to the Board of Education. Among many other roles and accomplishments, he served as the leading staff member who developed and implemented the district’s SENI, an equity-based funding allocation that today has grown to distribute nearly $700 million to the schools with the most needs in the district.
Publisher: WestEd and the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO)
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