Nonprofit Releases Tool to Help California Schools Plan, Budget, Meet LCFF Goals

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San Francisco-based Pivot Learning Partners announced today the release of a free software tool to help districts across the state transition to the landmark reform to California’s school funding system, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). This tool helps districts meet specific requirements under the new formula and make education budgets understandable to parents and community members.

Pivot’s PBAR – or Planning, Budgeting and Accountability for Resources – is a deceptively simple but profound solution to the problem of impenetrable education budgets. Districts that adopt PBAR will be well-positioned to respond to the accountability requirements for the LCFF when these are released in early 2014.

“We believe PBAR has tremendous potential to help districts take full advantage of the opportunity that LCFF presents,” said Pivot CEO Merrill Vargo. “For that reason, we are committed to making the tool widely available.”

This cloud-based software tool and training program walks education leaders through a budget development and management process that first helps schools identify goals and then build budgets to meet them. Traditionally, school and district “planning” have been driven by compliance with the rules associated with a myriad of different funding sources. LCFF has freed districts from many of these rules, and PBAR takes advantage of this opportunity to connect planning with budgeting.

The tool allows education leaders to model different budget scenarios; offers parents and community members a new opportunity to help shape budgets by providing input on goals and priorities; and enables advocates for particular groups of students to understand to what extent schools are targeting resources to the students who most need extra support.

“All of these features can support better informed school and district decision-making and wiser use of scarce education resources,” said Vargo. “PBAR will also help districts compare different strategies and investment amounts applied in pursuit of a particular goal and begin to answer questions about the impact of specific investments on students – what a business might call 'ROI,' or return on investment.”

PBAR has been developed and tested over the past several years through direct partnerships with select school districts to create a resource to help develop transparent and easy to understand budgets. After the Legislature’s recent passage of LCFF, PBAR was modified to reflect requirements under the reform and is now available to help all California schools. The PBAR platform will be adjusted further once the LCFF and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) requirements are made available in early 2014.

Pivot Learning Partners is making a basic version of the software available to California school districts at no cost, with the stipulation that they provide feedback on how they are using it and what they are learning. Pivot staff will be available on a fee-for-service basis to provide on-site support with installation, to customize the tool to meet local needs, or to provide training and coaching to administrators and others about how best to use the tool to meet their goals. To learn more about PBAR, please visit

Informational webinars that are open to the public will be held from 10:00am – 11:00am on August 28, August 29, September 4, September 11, September 18, and September 25. These webinars will provide an overview of the PBAR program, including a view of the PBAR tool and information about how to register to use PBAR.
Sign up for PBAR webinars here:

About Pivot Learning Partners
Pivot Learning Partners ( is a nonprofit organization of K-12 experts who work with schools, districts and charters to address the biggest challenges they face, including raising student achievement, closing the achievement gap and creating more equitable systems of schools. We partner with 70 districts serving over 1.6 million California students, including large urban districts such as Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Santa Ana as well as many mid-sized and small districts including ‘Race to the Top’ winners Lindsay and Galt. Outside California, our partner districts include Seattle and Chicago. Pivot’s partners primarily serve heavy concentrations of high-need students: 71 percent live in poverty, 83 percent are children of color, and 43 percent are English learners. Every year, achievement in Pivot’s partner districts improves at a faster rate than do similar districts.

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Veronica Ensign
since: 08/2010
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