Wednesday, June 12, 2013

NEW EDUCATION FUNDING COMES WITH STRINGS: State wants accountability plan, lower class sizes for extra money

Written by Roberto M. Robledo | The Salinas Californian |

Jerry Brown, John Perez, Darrell Steinberg,

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the budget compromise reached with Democratic leaders, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento left, and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, right, during a Capitol news conference in Sacramento on Tuesday. / AP

Jun. 12, 2013 4:34 AM   ::   According to the US Census Bureau report released in May, “Public Education Finances: 2011” California topped the nation in public elementary and secondary school revenues at nearly $69 billion. However, the state spent only $57 billion on education that year, about $34 billion on instruction.

California’s average per pupil spending on instruction in 2011 was $9,139. The national average was $10,540. California was ranked 36th in school spending. The top state was New York with $19,076 per pupil; Utah was lowest at $6,212.

  • smf: adjusted for the cost of living (aka “reality”) California is 49th in school spending. |  The census bureau’s methodology for ascertaining public education expenditure is suspect; their methodology in identifying charter schools as “private schools” is excellent.The data you like is revealed truth; the data you don’t like is lies, damned lies and statistics.

The state’s proposed Local Control Funding Formula would streamline the way school districts receive money. They would start with a "base grant" per pupil. Schools would then receive an added 35 percent of the base grant for every English learner, low-income or foster care student. Other grants will be provided to schools with concentrations of these students greater than 55 percent of enrollment.

A so-called funding windfall for public schools emerging from a state budget deal struck by the governor and lawmakers is not easy money, a Salinas educator said Tuesday.

Though most observers from Sacramento to Salinas agree that $3 billion or more in new funding for public schools is in the works, the devil is in the details.

“It comes with strings attached,” Mike Brusa, superintendent of the Santa Rita Union School District said.

Among the requirements for school districts in line to receive extra funding are an accountability plan and reducing class sizes.

And though Gov. Jerry Brown also sought to hand over more control of education to local districts, the state isn’t about to totally release its grip, Brusa said.

The budget compromise reached Monday indicates that Brown got the additional funding he wanted for the state’s most disadvantaged students. The legislative joint budget committee approved a formula that increases funding for each student statewide, but included a “concentration grant” that provides extra aid to districts in which the targeted students comprise at least 55 percent of enrollment. The target student groups are English learners, children from economically disadvantaged homes and foster kids.

Qualifying on that basis in the Salinas Valley are districts such as Alisal, Salinas City, Santa Rita, Chualar, Gonzales, Greenfield, Soledad and King City.

Brown wanted to use most of the state’s new tax revenue for schools. Some of it was to backfill the education budget after years of it being raided to pay for shortages elsewhere in the state budget. The governor also wanted to shift new money to districts challenged by large numbers of English learners and poor students.

It remains to be seen whether Brown’s funding formula for schools — a sea change in the state education system — will lead to improvements in academic achievement. But it is in line with the sentiments of voters who agreed to back the governor last November when he asked them to temporarily raise income and sales taxes to help the state move out of financial disaster.

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