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State agrees to change school funding proposal

Local districts stand to see more money as a result

Posted: June 12, 2013 7:24 p.m.
Updated: June 12, 2013 7:24 p.m.
 

After lobbying efforts from schools around the state, California’s political leaders have tentatively agreed to change the state’s new education funding model in a way that will put more money into local districts, according to officials.

The revisions, agreed to this week during a budget conference, would alter Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed local control funding formula by increasing per-student funding for an entire district population and reducing some of the money given to districts with high populations of students below the poverty line or English-language-learning students.

“We appreciate the increase to our base income that starts to make up for the losses we experienced in the last six years.” said Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger in an email. “It’s not a huge amount, but it’s a ‘down payment’ to recovery.”

Under the terms of the compromise, each of the school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley should see a bit more money next year, according to estimates from the state.

William S. Hart Union High School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said the district will see some new money as a result of the compromise.

“It’s nice to be inching back toward restoration,” she said Wednesday. “But we’re still far from where we were.”
Saugus Union School District Superintendent Joan Lucid, who previously told The Signal her district stood to lose funding under Brown’s original funding model, also said the compromise could result in more funding for the district.

And while the changes are welcome, they are not a windfall, Lucid said.

“If we get a little bit more it’s better than getting a little bit less,” she said.

The Castaic Union School District and Sulphur Springs School District both also stand to see more per-student funding next year as well, according to state estimates.

The Newhall and Hart districts were both part of the 35-member California School Finance Reform Coalition that was formed this year to push for more base, per-student funding for schools as part of the local control funding formula.

That formula, proposed as part of Brown’s budget in January, is split into three portions: base grants, supplemental grants and concentration grants.

The base grant is the bottom-line, per-student funding a school receives. The recent budget compromise raises the value of those grants, giving more money to schools regardless of the makeup of their student population.

The supplemental grant is per-student money that is given based on a school’s population of English-language-learners or students below the poverty line.

The last piece of the equation, the concentration grant, provides additional money for schools with a majority of students who live below the poverty line or are learning English.

The recent compromise lowered the amount of funding in the supplemental grant from an additional 35 percent per student to an additional 20 percent per student and raised the population threshold to be eligible for the concentration grants from 50 percent to 55 percent.

Though he praised the change, Winger said he was still cautious on the full ramifications of the formula.

“We still have concerns about the distribution formula for funds to address the needs of ELL (English-language-learning) and poor students,” Winger said. “The special ‘concentration’ (grant) amounts that large urban and rural districts will be getting because they are more impacted than we are takes funds away from our high-need students.”

The budget compromise is expected to be included in the state budget for the next fiscal year, which the state Legislature has to adopt by Saturday.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

 

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