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Education Coalition Sets Budget Priorities

April 25, 2013

The Education Coalition, a statewide stakeholders group of which Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is a member, has issued a position paper on the Governor’s proposed budget, including his Local Control Funding Formula. ACSA Interim Executive Director Bob Noyes said the paper reflects many of the priorities the association has been advocating or at the Capitol.

Noyes, along with ACSA President David Gomez and Legislative Advocates Sherry Skelly Griffith and Adonai Mack, attended a recent Ed Coalition meeting that focused on finalizing the School Finance Principles statement for the 2013-14 budget.

“The Education Coalition was able to agree to restoration – no cuts – and to strive to be funded in the Top 10 of states in per pupil funding over the long-term, among the other principles submitted to state policymakers,” Noyes said.
Mack noted that while agreement exists that schools need more funding after years of tremendous budget cuts, coalition organizations have some differences in their positions on the LCFF. Some of that may be due to a lack of data available to date.

“The members of the Education Coalition can agree that schools need lost funding to be restored,” Mack said. “However, each organization has several different perspectives regarding the best method to reform our funding system and on the specifics of that reform. Hopefully, as more specifics come forth, the coalition can collaborate on reforming our system.”

The Education Coalition position paper outlined six main budgetary priorities:

• The long-term school finance objective is to provide adequate funding to ensure California is in the Top 10 states of per pupil funding in the United States. This is consistent with the goals specified in Proposition 98.

• There should be no cuts to any school district or county office of education.

• Students with greater needs should be provided more resources for their education.

• There are numerous logistical and policy reasons that will make it difficult for some school districts to fully implement the LCFF in 2013-14, including the need to reconfigure data systems and student testing. It is also important to allow governing boards and district leadership sufficient time to provide program direction and instruction prior to the start of the instructional year.

• The Local Control Funding Formula must include transparency and accountability provisions to enable meaningful input and oversight by parents, educators, community members and the public.

• In its deliberations on the LCFF, we encourage the Legislature to consider a comparison of district-by-district budget allocations under the formula for the 2013-14 fiscal year to the budget allocations that would take place under current law.

The Ed Coalition recommended the LCFF receive a full committee hearing rather than simply be included in a budget trailer bill. Such a radical overhaul of the funding system calls for full discussion and deliberation, the coalition said.

In addition, there are a number of issues contained in the budget proposal that merit the opportunity for all stakeholders to express their views. The issues include:

• The new K-12 school finance funding formula and a new funding formula for county offices.

• New accountability requirements.

• Changes to adult education.

• Permanent changes in routine maintenance contributions, deferred maintenance and surplus property.

• Elimination of maintenance and the deferred maintenance match.

• Policy changes for online instruction.

• Use of Proposition 39 funds approved by voters in November for energy efficiency projects, and their treatment in Prop. 98 base.

School transportation is another area of concern outlined in the Ed Coalition paper.

The Brown administration has left home-to-school transportation out of the funding formula and stipulates those funds can be used for any educational purpose. The Coalition recommends that the School Transportation program, like all categorical education programs, receive a 1.65 percent COLA and that a 20 percent categorical education cut be restored. In addition, the coalition recommends the disparity in funding among districts be reduced, while maintaining current funding levels as the minimum base guarantee.

Charter school issues also are addressed. The coalition holds the following positions:

• The Coalition opposes expansion of the Charter School Facility Grant program to include eligibility for non-classroom based charter schools. There is no demonstrated need to allocate facility funds for charters that do not require a classroom.

• The coalition opposes extending for five additional years the requirement that school districts with identified surplus property first offer to sell those resources to charter schools. Further, the current law prohibits districts from offering facilities to charters at fair market value. This restriction impairs a district’s ability to exercise sound management practices to financially manage property.

• The coalition opposes expansion of the delegation of charter school oversight to any educational entity in the state. Current law authorizes the State Board of Education to delegate oversight of charters to any LEA in the county were the application originated. The proposed change allows any educational entity in the state to have oversight responsibilities. Oversight makes more sense with the entity that is within closest proximity of the charter. The coalition believes a change in the current law provision is unnecessary.

Noyes echoed Mack’s statement that agreement was not unanimous among the Education Coalition partners when it came to all aspects of the governor’s LCFF. Thus, he said, the coalition positions will speak for the coalition, and ACSA will continue to advocate for its key priorities if they differ from those of the coalition.

CDE releases funding formula data

The California Department of Education has released a data spreadsheet that compares the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula proposal to current-law funding.

The CDE’s model simulates proposals to change California’s school funding system and project district funding under the governor’s proposal. Current law includes restoring revenue limit deficits, categorical program restoration and a flat increase for average daily attendance. Also, the projections reflect funding for school districts and charter schools only, not county offices of education.

The spreadsheet, titled “Funding Formula Projections” can be accessed at this CDE link.

Users are urged to pay attention to the notes and assumptions used in developing the data. CDE used many of the same assumptions as the Department of Finance, such as:

• English learner and free and reduced-priced lunch calculation is assumed using a percentage split of 76/24 percent of unduplicated students. This means that DOF assumed 76 percent of EL students are also FRPL and 24 percent are EL only. This impacts the calculation of the final implementation target. 

• The grade span numbers for the base grant is an average ADA amount across grades. For example, the K-3 grade span is not a calculation based on each grade level ADA, but instead the average ADA for the students in the entire grade span. 

• Flat ADA throughout the implementation period.

• COLA for 2013-14 target only.

Most of the data used to develop the comparison is from 2010-11.

Source:  Association of California School Administrators