For the first time in six long years, the state budget includes more funding for education in 2013-14. In the on-time budget, Gov. Brown fended off legislative demand to reinstate programs cut during the recession and stayed true to his commitment to prioritize education funding. Though the sectors of education fared differently, all saw at least some increase in state funding.

The governor pushed through his Local Control Funding Formula which marks a sea change in the funding mechanism for K-12 districts. District income will no longer be based on historic property tax levels and categorical streams. The new method will be more transparent and equitable eventually, but in this implementation year, some districts will see inequities.

The LCFF eliminates nearly all 60-plus categorical programs and their complicated reporting requirements. It also eliminates the concept of revenue limits (general purpose per student funding). The money from both is now consolidated to help fund the new LCFF program, along with $2.1 billion in new monies.

The LCFF will essentially create a single statewide funding level for every student at each grade, making the base grant for a third-grader in the urban Los Angeles district, for example, the same as one for a third-grader in rural Laton. Yet the new program recognizes that it costs more to educate some students than others. For each student who is from a low-income family, is a foster youth or an English Language Learner, a district receives another 20 percent of the base grant, a “supplemental grant.” If the number of target students is greater than 55 percent of the total student population, the district receives another 50 percent of the base grant, a “concentration grant.”

But this year, even with the additional $2.1 billion, there is only enough money to move districts about 12 percent of the way toward their new targets. Complicating matters, until June 2014, when state programs are in place, districts can only estimate their new amount of funding. One provision says districts can’t receive less in state aid than in 2012-13. 

Now, for the first time and as part of LCFF, a district must align its budget to its Local Control Accountability Plan, which requires input from all stakeholders. Meanwhile, the State Board of Education is charged with creating a template for districts to demonstrate they are addressing the needs of all their students, but how those efforts will be measured is still being discussed. 

As always, districts are responding differently. Some know they will get more money and expect to share it with employees, while others are dubious and want to wait before they commit to salary increases. It is a challenging time for bargaining teams. 

— By the CFT Research Department

Eight state goals for “local control”

The new law authorizes and requires districts to choose the best way to:

  1. Ensure credentialed teachers, sufficient materials, facilities in good repair
  2. Implement Common Core State Standards, access for English learners
  3. Urge parental involvement, input and participation
  4. Improve pupil achievement
  5. Improve pupil engagement
  6. Improve school climate
  7. Ensure student access (including target students) to a broad course of study
  8. Create a local control and accountability plan in consultation with teachers, support staff, principals, administrators, parents and pupils