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California School Fiscal Services

Providing comprehensive business office and consulting services to K-12 traditional schools and charters

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School and Pension Costs in California: What Can Be Done?

Posted on April 5, 2019 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (83967)

A great breakdown of the current crisis in California school pension costs.

http://edsource.org/2019/school-and-pension-costs-in-california-what-can-be-done/610472

The Oakland Teacher's Strike Revealed California's Education Crisis

Posted on March 21, 2019 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (4306)

We've been talking about fair funding for education for a very long time now.  This is a good read to that end. 

http://www.thenation.com/article/the-oakland-teachers-strike-revealed-californias-education-crisis/

California charter schools facing new oversight under fast track legislation

Posted on February 22, 2019 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (5093)

At the urging of Gov. Gavin Newsom, a bill that will require charter schools to be more accountable and transparent is making its way swiftly through the legislature and may be the first of several bills seeking to tighten oversight of charter schools.


Senate Bill 126 would require that California charter school boards comply with the same open meeting, conflict-of-interest and disclosure laws as district school boards, including holding public board meetings, opening records to the public upon request and ensuring board members don’t have a financial interest in contracts on which they vote.


The bill was introduced by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino and Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach. It passed the state Senate Thursday with a 34 to 2 vote and will go to the state Assembly for a vote as early as next week. If it passes, the law will go into effect Jan. 1.


The bill met no opposition from the California State Charter Schools Association, although it did not formally support it.


Leyva said she was able to get Senate Bill 126 through with little resistance because all parties, including representatives of the charter school association and teacher unions, were at the negotiating table hammering out the details.


Not everyone was happy with everything in the bill, but everyone felt they had input, she said.


Supporters say Senate Bill 126 is needed because charter schools, while publicly funded, are not required to follow the same rules for transparency and accountability that govern other publicly funded schools, Leyva said before the vote.


“SB 126 directly responds to Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for swift action to resolve ongoing charter school transparency issues,” Leyva said.


There has long been debate over whether charter school board members are subject to the same open meeting and conflict-of-interest laws as school district boards, she said. The California Attorney General’s office recently weighed in on the discussion with an advisory opinion that charter schools are subject to the same good government laws as school districts.


Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation three times because of concern that those bills went too far in prescribing how the boards must operate.


“It’s about transparency and accountability,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, before Thursday’s vote. “Charter schools receive quite a few taxpayer dollars. There needs to be sunshine in all public schools and their governing bodies and this is what this bill stands for.”


Many charters already abide by open meeting and public records laws, either voluntarily or because of agreements with the entities that granted their charter, said Carlos Marquez, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the California Charter Schools Association.


Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, who abstained from the vote, expressed concern Thursday that charter schools are becoming the “fall guy” for the financial woes of school districts. “I think you have to look past a lot of other culprits like pensions,” he said, referring to the high costs districts face to fund teacher and administrator pensions.


Parents select charter schools because there aren’t enough great public schools, Moorlach said.


“Tightening the screws on charter schools may be a misdirected solution,” he said. “… SB 126 is a Band-aid when major surgery is needed.”


The drumbeat to increase oversight of charter schools has grown louder since last year when increased charter accountability became an issue in the governor’s race and a temporary moratorium on charter schools was debated during the California state superintendent of public instruction contest. It grew louder more recently, as teachers in two major California cities — Los Angeles and Oakland — went on strike demanding higher pay and more state resources for classrooms.


California has the most charter schools in the country — 1,323 schools enrolling 660,000 students, according to the California Charter School Association. Seventy new charter schools opened in the 2018-19 school year. Twenty-five of those were in the greater Los Angeles area and 17 were in the Bay Area. Fifty-three charter schools closed or returned to a traditional school in the 2017-18 school year.


Teachers unions say that charter schools sap resources from school districts, who get paid by the state based on the number of students in their seats each day. In Los Angeles and Oakland striking teachers have demanded that their school boards curb charter growth.


The new contract with teachers in Los Angeles Unified that ended the strike in January included an agreement to ask the Legislature and Gov. Newsom to impose an eight to 10-month moratorium on charter schools in the district while the state studies the financial impact and other effects of charter schools. Oakland Unified’s school board and teachers have made a similar request.


In response, earlier this month, Newsom called on State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond to establish a panel to research the impact of charter school growth on district finances. The panel, which is still being formed, will report back to Newsom on July 1.


This is the first time there has been an in-depth look at the financial impact of charter schools since the passage of California’s first charter law in 1992. The law prohibits school boards from taking the financial impact of a charter school on their district into account when deciding whether to grant or reauthorize a charter.


Los Angeles has 227 charter schools with 110,000 students — about one-sixth of its student population – and Oakland has 44 charter schools with 50,000 students — about half the district’s students.


Marquez said he hoped that Senate Bill 126 would encourage more collaboration between school districts and charter schools.


“Hopefully, we will take this cudgel off the table for our opponents, to perhaps de-escalate some of the rhetoric around charter schools being for-profit centers and our board members looking to get into the work of public education to line their pockets,” he said. “We couldn’t disagree with those assertions more vehemently. So, hopefully settling this area in law will put those falsehoods to bed.”


Seth Bramble, legislative advocate for the California Teachers Association, the teachers’ union, said charter schools were established to encourage innovation and to share best practices. “But the people cannot learn from this innovation if the people’s business is being conducted in private,” he said.


Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said there are other charter school accountability and financial oversight proposals being considered.


“One thing I’m exploring is a notion of a cap for new charter schools in California that will allow some capacity for charter schools to expand when low-performing schools are phased out or shut down,” McCarty said. “This will give some stability to some school districts in California related to declining enrollments.”


Some districts have so many charter schools that it is unsustainable for them financially, he said.


“It isn’t an aversion to charter schools as a whole, but their financial impact on the fiscal well-being of school districts across California and year-after-year growth in (charter) school population,” McCarty said.


Senate Bill 126 is moving quickly. It was introduced on Jan. 10, passed the Senate Education Committee Feb. 19 at its first meeting of the year and was approved on the Senate floor two days later.


“I think this is a great way to start off the year,” Leyva said.

Diane Lambert

EdSource

School districts will be required to verify they're fixing California's lowest-performing schools

Posted on January 10, 2019 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (7308)

By the end of January, the state will publish the initial list of hundreds of low-performing California schools that must receive intensive help under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which Congress passed in late 2015.


On Wednesday, the State Board of Education approved how districts with any of those schools must verify what they’re doing to turn those schools around. A coalition of student advocacy groups unsuccessfully argued that documentation alone isn’t enough. They urged the state board to require more monitoring by county offices of education and proof that districts’ actions are improving student performance.


What is clear is that there will be a lot more schools in line for assistance than the board initially anticipated and that their numbers will stretch thin the $130 million per year in federal funding that’s been set aside for “comprehensive” assistance.


Like the No Child Left Behind Act, which it replaced, the Every Student Succeeds Act requires that states identify and improve the performance of the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools receiving federal funding for low-income students, along with high schools where fewer than two-thirds of students graduate. But unlike NCLB, which told states how to fix the schools — like firing the principal and replacing half the staff — Congress gave states wide latitude to choose their own strategies.


The state board’s plan for implementing the law, which took months of negotiating with U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ staff, is consistent with the state’s new approach to accountability under local control.


The state plan says that the multicolored California School Dashboard will identify the low-performing schools, just as it does for districts. The dashboard uses a range of metrics, including suspension rates, chronic absenteeism and graduation rates — not just standardized test scores — to measure performance. And the plan says that school districts will be in charge of improving low-performing schools, consistent with how they address low-performing student groups districtwide that the dashboard identified.


With its vote on Wednesday, the board will require districts to add a separate section to their Local Control and Accountability Plans to deal with low-performing schools. LCAPs are the documents that districts must update yearly to spell out how they will spend money and expand programs and services for all students, particularly low-income children, English learners, foster and homeless youths.


In the new LCAP section, districts must verify that they thoroughly examined the school’s needs and weaknesses, adopted interventions that have been proven to work and identified “resource inequities” that a school improvement plan would address. A district must seek the advice of principals and other school leaders, teachers and parents and tell how the school will meet the needs of students at risk of not meeting the state academic standards.


Board members emphasized in the discussion that they were adopting an interim approach to satisfy federal law. Over the next three years, the California Department of Education plans to redo the LCAP to make it quicker to read and to write. Responding to repeated complaints that the public cannot track spending easily, if at all, in some districts, staff are creating a budget summary for parents. And the state’s Department of Finance will issue regulations this year requiring further budget transparency.


In a Jan. 4 letter, leaders of seven student advocacy nonprofits that formed the Equity Coalition credited the board’s efforts but criticized it for not taking a strong role in ensuring that low-performing schools actually make progress. They called for county offices of education, which already review district LCAPs to make sure they are complying with state law, to monitor the strategies and spending of districts.


“We want counties to play a more active role” and not simply “hold their noses if the plans are bad,” John Affeldt, managing attorney for Public Advocates, a coalition member, told the board on Wednesday.


State law requires that the state superintendent of public instruction and the state board intensify intervention if a district’s poorly performing student groups identified by the dashboard don’t improve within several years, but the state board hasn’t said what the interventions might be. The board similarly hasn’t decided what it might do with low-performing schools that don’t improve.


The state’s Department of Education is expected to name about 350 low-performing schools, based on those that perform in the red — the lowest of five color-coded performance levels — on all or most of the dashboard metrics. The wild card this year will be the addition of hundreds of district and county alternative high schools serving students who have dropped out, been expelled, spent time in juvenile hall or feel out-of-place in traditional high schools. They weren’t included under previous state accountability systems but will get long-overdue attention now. With low graduation rates, many, if not most, will likely make the state’s list.


Federal law requires that California distribute $130 million — 7 percent of its Title I funding for low-income schools — to fix the lowest-performing schools. A big list could reduce each school’s allocation, which could end up being anywhere between $200,000 and close to $400,000 per school.


The board is expected to further discuss the list and the state’s response to the Every Student Succeeds Act on Thursday with item 24 on the agenda (go here to view the slides for the presentation to the state board).

Edsource

John Fensterwald

Charter Advocates Dealt Loss in California Chief's Election

Posted on November 30, 2018 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (4527)

When former charter school executive Marshall Tuck called Assemblyman Tony Thurmond to concede in the hotly contested race for state schools superintendent, it marked another defeat for charter-school advocates in California.


Thurmond was elected California's top education official in the wave that led more liberal-leaning voters to cast ballots. Although both are Democrats, Thurmond had the party's endorsement in the nonpartisan state chief's election. He also was backed by teachers' unions, who were outspent more than two-to-one.


Independent groups supporting Tuck spent more than $36 million this cycle. Frequent political donor Bill Bloomfield, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, and philanthropist Eli Broad also were among the biggest contributors to those efforts. Tuck's official campaign raised another $5 million.


Despite the job's limited power, the race attracted more than $50 million in outside spending. It was the most expensive state superintendent contest in U.S. history, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.


"The group of people who have provided significant funding to candidates that are associated with a charter-friendly agenda have proven that they don't have the ability to capture statewide offices," said John Rogers, an education policy expert at UCLA.


It's only the latest big loss the pro-charter school movement has suffered in California.


In June, many of the same donors were disappointed when their chosen candidate for California governor, Antonio Villaraigosa, didn't make it out of the primary despite their more-than $20 million effort to bolster him.


Tuck also ran for schools chief unsuccessfully in 2014, when incumbent Tom Torlakson beat him—again with support from the teachers' unions.


The California Teachers Association provided most of the more-than $16 million independent effort supporting Thurmond. His campaign raised more than $3 million. Labor unions and the California Democratic Party were among the biggest donors for both Thurmond's campaign and the independent efforts supporting him.


Limited Power

The state superintendent of public instruction oversees the California Department of Education and chairs the State Board of Education. The office doesn't have much direct control over education policy in California, although it's seen as an influential position.


Thurmond, a member of the state Assembly, opposed diverting money from traditional public schools into public charter schools.


"I intend to be a champion of public schools," Thurmond said in a statement announcing his victory. "All students, no matter their background and no matter their challenges, can succeed with a great public education."


Tuck, meanwhile, emphasized giving parents more choices in where to send their children, including nonprofit charter schools. He also advocated for directing more money to teachers in schools with high populations of low-income students, English-learners, and children in foster care.

Both opposed for-profit charter schools.


The campaign spending illustrates tensions between factions of the Democratic Party more aligned with labor unions and others more aligned with business, especially in Silicon Valley, Rogers said.


"Those who were engaging in this funding wanted to communicate a message about their importance and the weight that they carried in statewide politics," he said.


"You would never expect an election for state superintendent of public instruction to get this much attention."

by the Sacramento Bee


California schools have improved, but major funding challenges remain

Posted on September 26, 2018 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (25972)

An interesting read and much needed reminder to us all how far we still need to go to see equitable funding for California schools.


https://www.educationdive.com/news/report-california-schools-have-improved-but-major-funding-challenges-rema/532428/


Gary Hart, author of California's charter school law, reflects on its impact

Posted on August 15, 2018 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (11910)

What does the “father” of California’s quarter-century old charter school law think of it now? EdSource recently caught up with former State Sen. Gary Hart, a Democrat who represented Santa Barbara in the Assembly and Senate for 20 years before retiring in 1994. In 1992, as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, he authored the nation’s second charter school law. Sue Burr, a consultant to the committee at the time and currently a member of the State Board of Education, played a major role in drafting it. EdSource writer John Fensterwald asked Hart in an interview and in writing what he was trying to do then and how, in hindsight, he might write a different law today. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.


The original law capped the number of charter schools statewide at 100, with no more than 10 in any one district and 20 in Los Angeles Unified. In 1998, the Legislature raised the limit to 250 charter schools plus an additional 100 more each year after that.


EDSOURCE: Is it as you envisioned, that we would have more than 1,200 charter schools in California?


HART: No. It’s always hard to predict how legislation is going to play out. Although it was very contentious, I didn’t view it as something that was going to be earth-shaking or have the magnitude that it has.


The original law called for up to 100 charter schools. That was changed a number of years later. When the law first passed, we had no idea as to whether there would be any charters. It was like you give a party and you don’t know if anyone will come or not. It was kind of slow in the beginning. The accelerated growth has been just extraordinary, and it’s not something that not only myself, but I don’t think anybody else could have predicted or even imagined.


EDSOURCE: So what do you attribute that growth to? Are the charter schools from what you can tell doing collectively or individually what you would have hoped?


HART: It’s really hard to generalize because charters vary so much. Generally speaking, I’m supportive. With any legislation of this magnitude, there are always going to be issues and concerns. I do think there has been such a focus on how many new charters, it’s focusing on quantity and I had hoped initially there would be a lot more focus on quality, a more careful review of charters.


EDSOURCE: One of the questions originally was whether charters should be seen as a way to innovate and set examples for other district schools to learn from or to give parents a choice in high-poverty neighborhoods where they are dissatisfied with their schools. Those are really two different focuses.


HART: I think it was both. First and foremost was innovation and reform, giving an opportunity for people to do things differently and not be constrained by all of the rules and regulations from the district, from collective bargaining.


I heard over and over again from school folks, “Stop passing all these laws. We’re spending all of our time being compliance officers and bureaucrats and we’re not able to do our jobs as educators.” I thought that there was some truth to that and so passing this law really gave an opportunity for educators to be educators and not be as concerned about rules and regulations.


After the law was passed, there wasn’t much that came forward either from teachers or administrators or school board members who had complained bitterly about state laws. Instead of going out and doing it, a lot of people resisted. That’s not to say they were wrong because going through the whole process can be quite time-consuming and there’s a lot of blood on the floor sometimes for establishing these things.


This other aspect was also important — the people who felt that the existing schools, particularly in low-income areas, were not serving their needs; their school districts were too large or dysfunctional. They needed to have something that would be their own.


One of the concerns was, “This charter law will be for sophisticated parents who have a lot of time on their hands.” It was somewhat of a surprise to see that places like LA Unified and Oakland and other large urban school districts were where the charters were taking off. I think there was a dissatisfaction on the part of parents, but also because the business community and the foundation community got behind these efforts and provided resources. I never anticipated that charter management organizations would have such an important role.


EDSOURCE: The financial impact on a district was not part of the law. Was it brought up at the time?

 

HART: I don’t think so. The law didn’t have large-scale financial ramifications. We were talking about 100 charters statewide.


The bill was a major effort to try to defeat the voucher proposal that was going to be on the ballot and we saw it as an alternative to vouchers that would not go down that path of providing the large taxpayer subsidies to private schools and violating the church-state separation right. (Editor’s note: Prop. 174, which would have given parents a tuition subsidy to a private or parochial school equal to half of per-student funding at public schools eventually did make the November 1993 general election ballot; voters defeated it 70 to 30 percent.)


There was strong teacher opposition to the charter legislation from both AFT (American Federation of Teachers) and CTA (California Teachers Association) even though ironically, I got the idea from Al Shanker (the late president of the American Federation of Teachers) who had written about it. I was a great fan and Shanker had come out and testified on a number of occasions to legislation that we were considering.

 

“Charter fights in places like L.A. Unified have become almost religious wars, where large amounts of money are spent, and having an appeals process that is less political makes sense to me.”


The focal point of the unions was largely to ensure that collective bargaining laws would not be tampered with in the charter law. That issue was very contentious and I refused to budge. My position was that there needed to be a choice for teachers whether to form a union at a charter school.


Legislative ‘jiu-jitsu’

EDSOURCE: How did you ever get it passed?


HART: It wasn’t easy. The unions were strongly opposed and many other education groups — ACSA (Association of California School Administrators) and CSBA (California School Boards Association) — were neutral perhaps because they didn’t want to antagonize CTA. It was pretty lonely out there. We engaged in some legislative jiu-jitsu and pulled the bill out of conference committee and passed it quickly off the Senate floor with no debate and sent it to Gov. Wilson, who signed it into law. If we had followed traditional procedures and the unions had had time to work the bill, it likely would not have passed.


EDSOURCE: Did it become apparent that there would be resistance and that some folks in many districts at the time didn’t like competition? You knew that, right, because you set up an appeals process?


HART: We did, and it wasn’t that we had a cynical view towards school districts, but there was a potential conflict of interest that made, I thought, an appeals process a good idea. School boards and school administrators might oppose any charter because it might mean less district control, less revenue and more competition. So having an appeals process made sense and I thought county boards, who were also elected and had a sense of local issues, were the right bodies to hear appeals. Six years later the charter law was amended to provide another appeal to the State Board of Education. I understand now the state board spends up to half its time hearing charter appeals, which I’m not sure is a good use of state board time given all the other policy matters on their plate.


EDSOURCE: Would you eliminate that ultimate appeals process because it’s not a good use of (state board) time, or do you think someone else ought to be the ultimate authority or should you just keep it at the county level and whatever happens there happens?


HART: I still believe a charter appeals process is a good idea but charters are now becoming a campaign issue with some county boards of education so I’m not sure they are the right venue for appeals. Charter fights in places like L.A. Unified have become almost religious wars, where large amounts of money are spent, and having an appeals process that is less political makes sense to me. Perhaps the State Board of Education could appoint an expert panel to review and have the final say on charter appeals. I favor making the process less political and handled by more neutral people.


Financial impact on districts

EDSOURCE: Some districts are very frank about the financial impact of charter schools. “Look, we can’t afford it. We’re making cuts and you’re asking us to start new charter schools adding to the financial problems we have.” If you were to redo the law, would you hold a district harmless for the financial impact or compensate it for the impact of a charter?


HART: Some districts face loss of revenue due to charter growth, and many districts face unsustainable long-term employee health care costs and all districts face escalating pension contributions. A review of state financing seems in order. We have had funding adjustments to mitigate for declining enrollment. Perhaps something like that ought to be considered for districts with many charter schools. But a strict “hold harmless” for districts losing students to charters doesn’t make sense, as it would reward districts for not being competitive and it might also provide an incentive for districts to push out “undesirable” students. Trying to accommodate various factors that are affecting the financing of a district gets very complicated. There are unintended consequences you have to be careful about.


Districts have many financial challenges and it seems to me that charters are not the primary or even significant part of the financial problems districts face in the long term — those problems are going to remain with or without charter schools.


EDSOURCE: Looking back, seeing what people are saying now are some of the challenges to the law, what changes might you make?


HART: We now have more than 1,000 charter schools in California and we know little about their successes and failures. Some work has been done comparing charter to traditional public schools on student achievement but, given the great variety of charter schools, I’m not sure about the value of that body of research.


I would be interested in research on topics like school size — charters tend to be smaller. School mission — charters tend to have a specific rather than a comprehensive mission. Accountability — it’s easier to dismiss staff in charter schools. And school governance — charter board members are not elected by the general public and do not have to raise money to run for office. There’s a lot to explore with 25-plus years of experience and data.


I think we’re hungry for highlighting and replicating what is working well, whether it’s in a charter school or in a traditional school. We don’t do a good job of that.

Push underway to increase California school funding by billions

Posted on May 22, 2018 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (4327)

"Brown defined full funding as the point at which every district would be restored to the pre-recession funding level of 2007-08, plus inflation."

2007-08 levels restored by 2018-19....it's truly a sad state of affairs for public education funding.  If only this message was commonly understood in California

-----------------------------------

By the time he leaves office early next year, Gov. Jerry Brown will have achieved his goal of “full funding” for his signature school financing law, the 2013 Local Control Funding Formula.

 

But rather than hang a banner and declare victory, legislators and education advocates who support Brown’s funding formula are ready to set the next target: an aspirational goal of committing more than $35 billion in new K-12 dollars to the funding formula — enough to raise California’s current per-student spending of $11,149 by about $6,500. That would potentially place California among the top 10 states in the nation.

 

Assembly Bill 2808, authored by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, avoids a hard choice: It does not include a funding source to accelerate education spending. Since future governors and Legislatures will ultimately decide the size of their state budgets, the bill cannot dictate how soon the state will reach the $35 billion target. It’s a recommendation: Give K-12 schools significantly more money and direct the bulk of it to the funding formula, which covers more than 80 percent of running a school district, from teacher salaries to roof repairs and pension costs.

 

The point of AB 2808 is to shift the conversation from the previous definition of a fully funded formula to the aspiration of “fair and full funding for all schools, regardless of where you live,” Muratsuchi said. The bill received unanimous approval in the Assembly Education Committee and is now awaiting action by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. It has the support of groups representing teachers, school boards, parents and school district administrators.

 

The Legislature passed the funding formula in 2013, when the state was emerging from the Great Recession with about a 15 percent cut in K-12 funding. Brown set an 8-year goal of shifting to the new financing system in which districts would receive the same base funding per student, with additional money, called concentration and supplemental grants, tied to the numbers of low-income students, English learners and foster and migrant children they enroll.

 

Brown defined full funding as the point at which every district would be restored to the pre-recession funding level of 2007-08, plus inflation. The California Department of Finance predicted it would take eight years, until 2020-21, to reach that point. But, due to surging revenue, particularly in the first years of the formula, Brown is budgeting to reach full funding in 2018-19, two years early. Districts with large proportions of students targeted under the formula already receive more than the full-funding minimum. Some are receiving $2,000 or more per student than districts with low percentages of “high-needs” students.

 

Support for AB 2808 reflects a consensus that the formula’s base funding, which is supposed to cover basic costs of doing business, isn’t enough. A year after they passed the funding formula, the Legislature passed a 30-year plan to cover a massive unfunded pension liability for public employees, including teachers and hourly school employees. That expense, plus rising costs of special education that legislators didn’t foresee in 2013, have consumed a large portion of school districts’ base costs.

 

The result has been, for many districts, deficit spending and encroaching on supplemental and concentration money that is supposed to be spent on extra programs and services for high-needs students.

 

“The base is anemic in terms of adequate school funding. Districts will find a rationale to keep doors open, and that is not good for poor children” who could get short-changed money intended for them, said Kevin Gordon, president of Capitol Advisors Group, an education consulting company based in Sacramento.

 

The funding law is silent as to what happens once the 2013 full-funding target is reached. Change the formula? Continue to freeze funding at the current level, plus inflation? Return to the old way, before the funding formula, and fund specific “categorical” programs that dictate how districts should use the money, whether for computer coding classes, mental health counselors, technology or whatever legislators decide is important?

 

Muratsuchi’s bill sends the message to stay the course, let school boards continue to determine their own spending decisions under local control and don’t change the funding formula itself — just increase the amount.

 

A top-10 funding state, in theory

Drafters of the bill set a target of raising base funding by $35 billion — 60 percent — which they calculated is needed to raise the base to the national average in per-student spending. That comes with caveats, however.

 

There are several methods to rank states’ student spending, as an EdSource explainer and an analysis of AB 2808 by Rick Pratt, chief consultant for the Assembly Education Committee, noted. Drafters of the bill chose Education Week’s index, which factors in regional costs of living. By that measure, California’s adjusted total per-student spending of $8,694 was $3,462 below the national average of $12,152; California ranked 45th among states and Washington, D.C.

State comparisons are several years old. The most recent EdWeek comparison, done in January 2017, was for the 2014-15 school year. Other states will probably increase their spending, too, raising the national average by the time California spends $35 billion more.

There is no target date for reaching the national average, and this Legislature couldn’t dictate what future governors and lawmakers will do anyway. Minimum K-12 and community college funding is determined by Proposition 98, a formula that factors in the annual growth in state revenue and per-capita income. School funding has increased an average of about 3 percent per year over the past 30 years, according to the Assembly Appropriations Committee analysis of the bill. Without new taxes, such as an initiative to raise taxes on commercial property — headed for the 2020 ballot — or reshuffling of state priorities, it could take more than a decade for the base funding under the funding formula to reach EdWeek’s 2014-15 national average.

But base spending for the funding formula makes up only 71 percent of total K-12 state funding. The rest includes supplemental and concentration grants under the formula, about 19 percent of the total. Supplemental and concentration grants are calculated as a percentage of base funding. So raising the base by 60 percent would require raising supplemental and concentration funding by the same proportion. Other programs, including the state contribution to special education, make up the final 10 percent.

Next year, under Brown’s budget for full funding, the base grant would average $8,300 per student, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

 

With a 60 percent increase, as called for in the bill, that amount would rise to $13,300 per student.

 

Raising the total funding formula, including supplemental and concentration grants, by 60 percent would increase spending to $15,900 per student.

 

Even if spending for the remaining K-12 programs not included in the funding formula, like the state contribution to special education, were frozen at current levels — a very unlikely scenario — total per-student spending would rise to a minimum $17,600 per student, according to the LAO. California would then be among the top 10 states in per-student spending, according to Pratt’s analysis.

 

Supporters aren’t citing these daunting numbers. Instead, they’re making the overall point that “full funding” under the current law is still inadequate funding.

 

“The educators who work with students day in and day out fully support AB 2808, a long-term funding mechanism to bring increased educational funding in California to a level our students need and deserve,” Claudia Briggs, a spokeswoman for the California Teachers Association, wrote in an email. Along with the CTA and the state PTA, associations representing school administrators, business officers and school boards also back the bill,

 

Based on conversations with the Department of Finance, Muratsuchi said he is “optimistic” that Brown would sign the bill. Doing so would ensure that Brown’s landmark law remains the top funding priority after he retires, he said.

John Fensterwald

EdSource

Charter schools are booming in California. Here's where they are growing fastest

Posted on April 24, 2018 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (3531)

 Be sure to check out these latest statisics on charter school growth in California.  


http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article208863954.html



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