UPDATE: as of 1:13 pm, PDT, Monday, June 10:
Good news, keep signing! It’s a constantly changing picture, but so far the main points of agreement seem to be these (as of the past weekend’s negotiations):
- Put more money into the base grants (raise all districts equally)
- Supplemental grant percentages would be 20% of the higher base (not 35% as the Governor proposed)
- Increase the Concentration Grant rate to 50% of the higher Base Grant for each low income and ELL student above the new 55% threshold. (The Gov wanted 35% in a second bump for each disadvantaged student above 50 percent threshold.)
- Provide an “Economic Recovery Payment” to some (not all districts) that otherwise would not have been restored to their 2007-08 base under the formula.
We have a historic opportunity: for the second time this school year, public education supporters in California can boost funding back to pre-Great Recession 2007-2008 levels and begin to get us out of the basement among all fifty states when it comes to state per pupil funding. We need to let Governor Brown know he must flex and alter his version of Local Control Funding Formula to reflect SB69’s improvements.
And we need to do this today — before we head off for vacation, or summer camp, or summer school.
Already on top of this?
Pressed for time? Fast forward past the first 16 minutes recorded below, and listen to the 30-minute podcast broadcast to a network of 100+ SoCal women who blog, then skip down to the CALL FOR ACTION.
Need more information? Read on to hear why Senate Bill 69 is better for our state’s school kids.
A Quick Recap
In November 2012, we Californians passed Prop 30 and kept $5 billion more from being cut from our $56 billion annual K-12 school budget. Yay for California!
In my son’s school district, here’s how that looked: “Nov 2012” indicates $2 million that stayed in our budget with the passage of Prop 30. This pie chart is something my district’s business office created for a public forum in October, 2012, when we didn’t know how voters would go on all the school funding propositions.
[“March 2013” indicates a parcel tax of $2 million that we successfully renewed. Whew. This is particular to our district and may not apply to yours.]
The large red wedge (where it says “LCFF” in purple letters) is around one-sixth of the approximately $39 million school district total pie. About $6 million per year in deferrals is unfunded by the state every year. This is a direct result of the Great Recession starting in 2007-2008.
We aren’t the only ones — in fact, every single district around the state has a similar chunk of their pie missing too from deferrals, including LAUSD and the other big city districts. It’s what makes up the “wall of debt” the Governor wants to pay down.
Why We Are 48th in Per Pupil Funding Even After Prop 30’s Passage
It’s important that Governor Brown’s foregrounds the issue of fairness in education funding. It matters that kids who need more, get more. Governor Brown aims to create a new baseline of funding starting from where we are today so that every school district in the state gets the same amount per student, and then an extra amount for kids who are more expensive to teach, like English Language Learners, Special Ed, and Low-Income kids. If districts have over 50% of their kids receiving free and reduced lunch, for example, then they’ll receive a second “concentration grant” of 35% over and above the baseline.
That’s great — but starting the baseline from today (2013-2014’s bar on the graph, instead of 2007-2008’s bar) is the same as enacting a permanent cut for all districts. What happened to the deferrals — that $6 million that it takes to run schools in the district I live in, for example — for all districts across the state?
Fairness, or Winners and Losers?
There’s also a problem with Governor Brown’s LCFF for school districts that fall just below the 50% concentration grant cutoff. Democrats in the State Senate have compiled a list of 405 individual schools that have concentrations of high-needs kids but wouldn’t receive the double bump in funding to help them because the district is below 50%. This spreadsheet is courtesy of State Senator Carol Liu, chair of the Senate Education Committee. Browse or download the list here — is your school on it?
Below are some sample school districts State Senator Carol Liu represents. See how in Year 1 of SB69, all districts start out higher than the level the Governor proposes? And in 2020, all districts end higher. In some cases the state funds for K-12 will be $500-$700 per student higher.
SB69 sets a higher baseline now, makes the percentage that goes to the three most expensive categories of learners above the baseline a simple 45%, and lifts large city, small rural, and suburban districts higher than where they’d be under the Governor’s LCFF plan. We all start out higher, and end higher.
That’s important. Consider that this very moment, NY state spends $18,618 per pupil. A recent US Census Bureau report lists what other states currently spend, and it’s well above what California spends per pupil:
The bureau examined spending across the nation for fiscal year 2010. It found New York schools spent $18,618 per pupil, far above the national average of $10,615. The next highest states were New Jersey, at $16,841; Alaska at $15,783; Vermont at $15,274; and Wyoming at $15,169. [emphasis mine]
The District of Columbia was the only entity with spending higher than New York, at $18,677 per pupil.
In general, states in the Northeast had the highest spending numbers. The states that spent the least were Utah, at $6,064 per pupil; Idaho at $7,106; Arizona at $7,848; and Oklahoma at $7,896.
See why we’re 48th in per pupil state spending among fifty states, even after passage of Prop 30? By the time 2020 rolls around, Los Angeles Unified will be at $12,684 per pupil under SB69, or only $11,984 under the Governor’s LCFF plan. We won’t get the educations of tomorrow our kids need by paying yesterday’s bottom-of-the-barrel prices. An improved Local Control Funding Formula is a major step we need to take to make school funding simpler and more equitable. So why not go with the version that does the best job of balancing equity with adequacy, and starts everyone at a higher level?
Right now the Governor is “poised for victory,” as the LA Times calls it. He’s slowly coming around to education experts in the State Senate and the Assembly who propose good fixes that need to be reconciled along with bigger issues in the overall budget, which must pass by June 15. Let’s help him get there faster and see the wisdom of incorporating fixes.
A Call To Action
Debate is happening through the end of this week.
More resources if you want the gory details:
- From the Office of State Senator Carol Liu: Information Fact Sheet on Senate Bill 69 (pdf)
- California Budget Project: One Step Forward, One Step Back in Addressing Funding Inequities?
- California Together‘s Letter to Assembly Member Joan Buchanan, Chair of he Assembly Education Committee regarding problems for English Language Learners in Brown’s LCFF (pdf)
- EdSource: Brown Commits $1 Billion to Common Core, Sticks With Funding Formula