With changes to the state’s funding formula for public schools intended to give more money to districts with high numbers of economically disadvantaged, English-learners or foster children, some local districts are concerned it will hit their schools’ budgets hard.
This is mostly true for school districts funded by local property taxes, called basic aid, say some school officials. The South San Francisco Unified School District is afraid it will be one such loser. The district could be set back $5 million to $8 million this year with the new formula, said Trustee Philip Weise.
“We’ve been in contact with elected officials in Sacramento about the negative impacts on the district,” he said. “Most of the basic aid districts that are impacted seem to be in San Mateo County because of the property tax rates up here. We’re not in same boat as Hillsborough, which is a rich basic aid district.”
Back in August 2013, the Burlingame Elementary School District projected it would be losing approximately $140,000 in the 2013-14 school year switching off of the former revenue limit program.
“In this new system, we lose,” Trustee Gregory Land said at a meeting this past summer. “It solves some problems in our state, but has consequences for districts like us.”
Chris Thomsen, a trustee for the Sequoia Union High School District, said the impact of the new formula is primarily on funding for charter schools because the district is basic aid.
“There’s no impact this year because it’s implemented gradually and it’s not a big story immediately since it’s a pretty small piece of the budget,” he said. “Funding levels will go up for charter schools that serve needier populations and the other issue is specifics haven’t actually been set.”
The new Local Control Funding Formula was signed into law July 1, 2013, and changed the state funding formula for K-12 schools to help boost the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. The state budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year provides about $55.3 billion in local and state revenue for K-12 education and two-year community colleges. That’s an increase of more than $8 billion over the 2011-12 level under the state’s school funding formula known as Proposition 98. The new formula will send $2.1 billion more to school districts that have high numbers of students from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency or are foster children. During the first year, the formula gives school districts more control over state aid by eliminating earmarks for state-mandated programs, except for special education funding.
As part of the new formula, school districts, county offices of education and charter schools are required to develop, adopt and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan, beginning on July 1, using a template adopted by the California State Board of Education on or before March 31. Sequoia is held to this LCAP process and will be forming a committee of parents and staff to give input into the budgeting process by the end of the month or early February, said Superintendent Jim Lianides.
Other local basic aid districts aren’t so concerned about the new formula, including the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District. Superintendent Michael Milliken said the new formula won’t affect the district’s bottom line and he noted he thinks it’s a very positive move to help more disadvantaged students in California.
Meanwhile, Gary Waddell, deputy superintendent for the San Mateo County Office of Education, said his office has been working on how to best support districts in thoughtful planning processes that continually improve the learning conditions for their students, including an information and planning session at the Office of Education last week.
“While the California State Board of Education is considering this item at their meeting this week, our schools and districts have engaged in some strategic thinking around how they will address the eight state priorities (for LCAP) that are outlined in the LCFF legislation,” he wrote in an email. “While the LCFF has different implications for revenue limit and basic aid districts, the focus for all districts at this juncture is awaiting the state board action on the template and guidance so that we can begin to work collaboratively and build on the positive work that is already underway and engage in thoughtful, intentional planning around where that work might be continually improved and enhanced in the service of our students.”
The eight priorities for LCAP planning include student engagement, student achievement, school climate, basic services, implementation of the new Common Core Standards, other student outcomes, parental involvement and course access.
Waddell notes the formula is a solid concept and a positive step forward in aligning instructional planning and budgeting processes.
“The challenge with any change as large as this one lies in the details,” he wrote. “Our districts are eager to receive the template and guidance from the state Board of Education, once approved, to begin this new type of planning and programmatic design. This work has already prompted positive conversations around reflection and planning as we build thoughtful plans that reinforce the best of what is currently happening, our best thinking about how we can expand and enhance service to those students that need them the most, and work collaboratively in the interest of our students and communities.”
For more information on the new formula visit cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/lc.
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