Beau Yarbrough, Staff Writer - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin from LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/Ym645k
2/22/2013 09:23:51 PM PST :: It doesn't necessarily rob from the rich, but Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed school funding formula would definitely give more to the poor.
And that has officials from some well-to-do districts crying foul.
"I don't think it's fair," Upland Unified School District board President Wes Fifield said.
"Discrepancies can't always be solved with money."
Brown's proposed Local Control Funding Formula upends the state's traditional model for funding public school districts and charter schools, each of which rely mostly on revenue from the state.
Districts currently get paid for average daily attendance, which provides funds based on how many students are sitting at their desks on an average day.
Local Control Funding Formula at a glance
A summary of fiscal effects found in Gov. Brown's funding formula document:
The governor's proposal, which would be phased in over the next few years, would add considerations for the percent of English-language-learner students, the number of students whose families qualified for the federal free or reduced lunch programs, and the percent of foster children at the school.
Brown's model has to win approval from the Legislature.
Although every school district is set to get more money in the 2013-14 fiscal year than in previous years - thanks to a combination of the recovering economy and voters approving the general sales tax increase tied to Proposition 30 in November - better-off districts would receive a smaller increase in revenue than their neighbors.
In Southern California, that means a well-to-do district such as Manhattan Beach Unified, where only 2.32 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches and less than 1 percent of students speak a language other than English at home, would get $8,312 per student annually, once the formula is fully phased in over the next few years.
The district will receive $6,307 for the 2013-14 school year, using the current system.
Other school districts in affluent communities would also find their piggy banks emptier than their less well-to-do neighbors: San Marino Unified would receive $8,303 per student under the new formula, Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified would get $8,429, Las Virgenes Unified would receive $8,546 and Etiwanda Elementary would have $8,549.
"It's unfortunate that's the way the governor is looking to solve all the problems," Fifield said.
Upland Unified would receive $9,985 per student.
"You can't just throw money at kids who are in a difficult situation and expect that to solve it," he said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Victor Valley Union High School District in Victorville, where almost 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches and almost 10 percent of students don't speak English at home, would receive $12,135 per student annually. The district would get $6,770 per student if Brown's plan is not approved.
"I am a fiscal conservative, personally, but I do believe that English language learners need to get all the support they need so they can be prepared for school and the career world," said Steve Garcia, an Ontario-Montclair School District board member.
Ontario-Montclair would receive $11,466 per student under the new formula, making the school district one of the big winners under Brown's plan.
"As governor, I would have some performance measures to safeguard that those moneys are not spent frivolously," Garcia said.
"You have to have a very sophisticated, accountable system, where there are safeguards and internal controls, to make sure that money is spent properly, appropriately and where they're most needed."
Brown's formula does promise more money than districts have received in recent years, but only because districts have suffered so many cuts, said Donald Stabler, deputy superintendent of administrative services for Torrance Unified.
The district would get $9,116 per student if the new formula is implemented.
"We lose about $2.4 million annually" under the new formula, Stabler said.
Brown "said everybody wins. We win a little bit if it goes in, but there are still definite winners and losers in this process. I consider Torrance a loser."
Brown's plan also received a mixed reaction in the Alta Loma Elementary School District in Rancho Cucamonga, which would receive $8,705 under the new formula, as compared to $6,056 next year under the current system.
"We would still be asked to (be) invited to the table for (the formula change) discussion, but we'll say `Thank you' for anything more than we're getting now," school board president Brad Buller said.