February 26, 2013: "Restructuring the K-12 Funding System," an analysis of Governor Brown's two-tiered proposal for the 2013-14 budget year was released Friday by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), the nonpartisan, independent agency that serves the California Legislature.
The Governor proposes to "replace the vast majority" of funding formulas with basically two formulas: one for school districts and charter schools, and the other to county offices of education.
The first formula relaces "per-pupil funding rates based on historical factors and varying participation in categorical programs," with a uniform base per-pupil rate for each of four grade spans -- a base rate that would then get bonuses ("augmented by supplements") for: needier students (defined as foster children, kids from low-income families, and English learners); districts with high concentrations of needier students; students in grades K-3 [whither Transitional Kindergarten students?]; and high school students.
Brown is proposing to give each high-needs student an extra 35 percent of the base grant – from $2,220 for those in K-3 to $2,688 for those in high school – money that would be phased in over seven years as extra funding from Proposition 30 and a rejuvenated economy becomes available. The LAO said the 35 percent supplement is “somewhat high” but still “within the range” of what other states provide for similar students as well as what California research studies recommended. [John Fensterwald, EdSource]
As Teresa Watanabe reported in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, Brown's proposal has drawn "mixed reactions":
...In the well-heeled Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District, poverty and limited English are not widespread problems. But officials there say their student needs include more expensive Advanced Placement classes to challenge them with college-level material in high school.
Who should get more state educational dollars?... under [Brown's] new funding formula: Anaheim would receive an estimated $11,656 per student annually; Palos Verdes would get $8,429 ...
"It's great news," said Darren Dang, Anaheim's assistant superintendent of administrative services. "Given our demographics, we'll be getting much-needed resources for our students."
But Lydia Cano, Palos Verdes' deputy superintendent of business services, said she believed the new scheme would shortchange her students. Disadvantaged students already receive a bigger share of state and federal dollars, she said.
"It's not fair," she said. "It will make the divide even bigger."....
The LAO finds Brown's proposals "simple and transparent" and the proposed rates for both the base per-pupil money and the bonus, "reasonable." However, some "notable modifications" were recommended, "specificially" changing some of the calculation requirements and "strengthening spending requirements" to enrue that the bonus money actually translates "into additional services for the [targeted] student groups."
In the details of the LAO report, are two recommended changes that are likely to "stir up controversies," according to John Fensterwald, writing in today's EdSource.
...Both changes would cut state money going to some politically powerful districts. One pertains to how much state money should go to property-rich communities, like Irvine, Beverly Hills and Palo Alto, that fund schools mostly on their own, without significant state aid. Comprising about 10 percent of districts, they’re known as “basic aid.” Brown would grandfather the state money that the districts do get through categorical programs; t
he LAO views this position as a giveaway to well-off districts. The analysis doesn’t say how much money would be saved.
The other change involves the treatment of two categorical programs, totaling $1.3 billion: home-to-school transportation and a categorical program established to fund desegregation programs that predominantly benefit Los Angeles Unified and a few urban districts. As with the basic aid districts, Brown would grandfather money districts get from these programs. The LAO argues that position contradicts Brown’s goal of creating a uniform, rational funding system...