June 15, 2021

CA’s K-12 funding formula likely to change, but disagreement over how

For the first time since its adoption eight years ago, Gov. Newsom wants to change the formula that determines more than 70% of California school districts’ annual spending. But his plan to direct more money only to districts with the greatest concentration of low-income children is proving to be a tough sell so far to the Legislature.

The LCFF already targets additional funding to school districts based on the enrollment of four groups of students identified as needing additional services. They are low-income, foster and homeless students, and English learners. Arguing that “Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,” former Gov. Jerry Brown persuaded the Legislature to pass the landmark funding law in 2013.

Newsom wants to move a step further by significantly increasing funding under the formula for “concentration” districts, where those qualifying students comprise at least 55% of enrollment. Newsom proposes to add $1.1 billion annually to the formula to enable those districts to hire more staff. More than 2 million low-income children and English learners are enrolled in concentration districts.

CA overall has one of the highest ratios of adults to students in schools compared with other states. In keeping with the formula’s “local control” principle, Newsom would let school districts decide whether to hire more math teachers, counselors, or classroom aides.

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