Report 2019-108 Recommendation 14 Responses

Report 2019-108: Sacramento City Unified School District: Because It Has Failed to Proactively Address Its Financial Challenges, It May Soon Face Insolvency (Release Date: December 2019)

Recommendation #14 To: Sacramento City Unified School District

To prevent a similar fiscal crisis in the future, Sacramento Unified should do the following by July 2020:

Develop and adopt a succession plan that ensures that it has staff who have the training and knowledge necessary to assume critical roles in the case of turnover.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From September 2023

Sac City launched initiatives to support staff to ensure they have the training and knowledge in critical areas. In the fall of 2022, SCUSD, SCOE and National University created the Sac City Unified Leadership Program (SCULP). The program--to "grow leaders from within" the District--offered certificated aspiring administrators the training in pursuit of their credential. Additionally, the SCULP 2.0, was designed to retain administrators. This experience is paid for by the District and the administrators agree to remain in the District for 6 years. The district also prepared a professional learning series that offered monthly Just in Time sessions to site leaders. These innovative programs illustrate how SCUSD is working towards a succession-based "grow from within" model that aims to educate, train, empower, and retain a new cohort of aspiring leaders each year who are poised to assume critical roles in the event of staff turnover.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Partially Implemented

As we have noted in prior updates, Sacramento City Unified School District has taken some steps to help reduce turnover, but it has not developed a succession plan as we recommended. The purpose of an organization-wide succession plan is to ensure that the district will have staff with adequate training and knowledge in the event of turnover. The efforts the district have taken so far have focused on school site staff and not on key administrators, such as the superintendent or department-level directors.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2022

Our professional learning opportunities provided throughout the district have been a platform for administrators to gain access to the tools and knowledge needed to perform their positions and ensure individuals are ready in the case of turnover. Specifically our series has connected our administrators with various departments to learn more about systems like; Infinite Campus (our student information system), ESCAPE (our employee management system), Frontline (our system to request substitutes) and our budget managing system also found in ESCAPE. Other professional learning opportunities are grounded in other job related tasks. We have provided this training across the district to administrators, and also support our teacher leaders through our SCULP program and mentorship. The newly formed People and Culture Talent Management Division of Human Resources' mission is to seek out and recruit the most qualified, talented, diverse people to not just "fill" the open positions, but to grow them and to grow those around them. Recruiting the right people, for the right position and placing them at the right position is paramount to building our inclusive, equitable, diverse, inviting, healthy culture that allows our employees to thrive.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Partially Implemented

Although the district has developed some items and activities to mitigate the impacts of staff turnover, it has still not developed a succession plan, as we recommend. In its 2021 update, the district pointed to checklists it had developed to help transition principals. The activities described here may be helpful to the district but are not a replacement for a succession plan that would help ensure that the district has staff with necessary training and knowledge in the event of staff turnover.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2021

The Human Resources Department has implemented the succession planning process for all management positions, including those in the central office. The implemented process includes transition checklists and documents, electronic welcomes and introductions, regular communications, offerings of trainings, enhanced automations, one-one check-ins, and Google resources.

Additionally, the District is engaging in cross-training efforts to enhance the sustainability of processes and has developed and implemented an inter-departmental team structure aimed at ensuring enhanced knowledge building and inter-department functionality.

The department and staff responsible are Superintendent Aguilar and Chief Human Resources Officer Cancy McArn.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Partially Implemented

Sacramento Unified provided evidence that one of its divisions has completed a succession plan. It states that the other divisions' plans are in progress.

1-Year Agency Response

The Transition Planning Process has been developed. See Procedures document for each site/principal to be completed upon their resignation/retirement. The Human Resources Department meets with the departing principal or supervisor to review and facilitate transition of knowledge. Elements of the plan concerning updated department priorities and manuals require additional work and adoption.

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Pending

Although Sacramento Unified has developed forms to be completed by principals leaving the district, it has not developed a succession plan as we recommended. As we describe in our report, a succession plan is a proactive step taken to ensure that an agency has a talented and competent workforce and that the agency can mitigate the loss of institutional knowledge when it experiences attrition.

6-Month Agency Response

HR consulted with other districts regarding these processes. The process for "Succession Planning" includes reaching out to each department to ascertain: 1) If they have an existing department manual; 2) Request updates as needed; 3) Standardize manuals to have consistency. HR will obtain the description of key functions for each department. Ongoing communication and an example manual to support each department manager will be issued by July 1, 2020. However, this work has already started with gathering data, including organization charts from each department. HR will implement monthly interdepartmental meetings with all stakeholders to help support managers in HR/District policies, Ed Code & contract management.

Concerning Exit Plans, HR is revising the current exit process to incorporate a project status/task document to help support the new administrator hired to fill the role.

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Pending

60-Day Agency Response

HR will conduct a search for effective succession plans by reaching out to neighboring school districts as well as partner agencies (ACSA, Council of Great City Schools, Central Valley Personnel Study Group, etc.).

HR will also work with appropriate stakeholders to establish a mandatory exit process for all administrators, both site and central. Training and communication would follow.

All sites/departments will be required to submit an annual list of top priorities/projects for the site/department, along with their department reporting structure. Communication would follow.

Each department will create a department manual. Training and communication would follow.

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

All Recommendations in 2019-108

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.