Districts to Get First Payment Under Brown’s New Formula

Jerry Brown The first installment of Gov. Jerry Brown’s new state aid program, known as the Local Control Funding Formula, will reach schools by next week.

Nearly $27 billion is slated to be distributed from the controller’s office by July 31, according to to the SI&A Cabinet Report. The money represents the first regular installment for the fiscal year and includes about $2 billion for LCFF activities.

Brown’s new formula, which will be fully funded over the next eight years, directs more state money to districts with a large proportion of needy students and English learners. It also eliminates almost all categorical programs and lets districts choose how to spend their dollars.

Instead, the state is pooling school programs and services to provide base grants for every district, based on average daily attendance and other factors.

The formula gives a supplemental grant of 20 percent to districts with higher numbers of low-income students, foster youth and English learners.

In districts like LA Unified, where low-income students make up over 55 percent of enrollment, the state will also give additional funding that adds an additional 50 percent of the base amount.

However, districts are being warned that their funding may change because California Department of Education officials said they didn’t have enough time to perform all necessary recalculations, leaving district allocations based on 2012 numbers.

“We are basically just flowing money based on the prior year,” said Elizabeth Dearstyne, an administrator at CDE’s fiscal division who helps oversee apportionments. The new  LCFF – in terms of base grants, targets and economic recovery as well as the unduplicated pupil funding – those components won’t occur until we do the Second Principal Appointment certification for 2013-14.”

Some critics say that the formula has too much flexibility and gives districts too much control in spending choices.

Arun Ramanathan, executive director of the Education Trust-West, told EdSource that the formula lacks clarity.

The state Department of Education has lumped districts’ LCFF allocations as one figure, instead of by components. Without a breakdown of base, supplemental and concentration dollars, there’s no baseline to measure spending decisions moving forward, he said.

The State Board of Education is reportedly working on creating tighter regulations for the formula’s accountability component. Spending standards and policies need to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2014.

Read the whole story at SI&A Cabinet Report.

Previous posts: More Praise For Gov. Brown’s Funding Formula, LA Unified Wins Big Under State Budget Compromise