SAN RAMON -- Dozens of parents and local district leaders gathered Friday to find out how the state's new funding formula and district accountability plans will affect them and their children.

A state Parent Teacher Association representative gave an overview of the way funding is allocated, with base grants for each student, plus supplemental grants for low-income pupils, English learners and foster youth. Districts with more than 55 percent of students in those categories also receive concentration grants to help them narrow the achievement gap between low-income and minority students and their middle- and upper-class peers.

But the districts represented at the gathering sponsored by the San Ramon Valley and Las Trampas PTAs will not get as much new money as many others, since the number of disadvantaged students enrolled there is relatively low. Superintendents from the San Ramon Valley, Acalanes and Walnut Creek districts stressed that the new funding formula was created to return them to 2007-08 funding levels by 2020-21, which will still leave most California districts with far less funding per student than those in other states.

The district leaders have been holding meetings with parents to explain the funding shift and the accountability plans they must create with parent input.

"We are still digging out of that hole we've been in since 2008, so we are happy to be in the black," said Mary Shelton, superintendent of the San Ramon Valley district. "But, it's not providing a lot of money for new programming. There have been many cuts over the years. We need to decide: Do we bring back old programs or start new programs?"

John Nickerson, Acalanes district superintendent, said parent meetings about the accountability plan are scheduled in the next month to decide on priorities for programs that used to have designated funding, such as Gifted and Talented Education and deferred maintenance.

Walnut Creek district Superintendent Patricia Wool said she and her staff are presenting data to parents about students' social and emotional well-being, as well as their academic achievement, and noting the district's weaknesses. She wants to evaluate current programs to decide whether they are effective.

"We need to look at: If this program isn't as strong, should we reallocate dollars?" she said.

The district leaders also talked about the challenges they face as they implement new Common Core curriculum standards and prepare for online pilot tests that will start next month. Now, teachers are expected to encourage learning by asking students thought-provoking questions and helping them work in small groups, instead of standing in front of the class and lecturing, they said.

"It's a big, big change and our teachers are excited about it," Nickerson said. "That said, they are a bit overwhelmed."

All three superintendents said they would like the state to provide additional funding to help train teachers and buy instructional materials for the transition, which they expect to take at least five years. By next year, Wool said, Common Core is supposed to be fully implemented in all districts in the state.

The superintendents agreed that it is important for them to communicate the goals of the new standards not only to teachers, but to students and parents. They warned that test scores are expected to drop with the more rigorous tests, which could come as a shock to parents who are accustomed to seeing their schools perform at top levels.

"There are some students for whom this will be a paralyzing test," Wool said. "They are not great with technology yet, and it's a whole new way to think about a test. So, that's my worry."