Reforms > Common Core

Brown commits $1 billion for Common Core, sticks with funding formula



Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Tuesday to direct all of the extra $2.8 billion in revenue that the state expects to receive this year to K-12 schools and community colleges, mostly for one-time uses, including $1 billion to implement the Common Core standards.

There had been projections of even more money this year, but in a news conference releasing his May budget revise, Gov. Jerry Brown tempered expectations; the drag of federal tax changes, sequestration of federal spending and new payroll projections had led the administration to lower its bottom-line estimates in the May revision of the state budget. Administration officials warned that the minimum guarantee for school spending, after rising to $56.5 billion in 2012-13, is projected to fall nearly $1 billion next year.

Brown is not suggesting any changes to the basic design of his Local Control Funding Formula, as suburban districts had hoped and Senate Democrats had proposed. Instead, he defended his sweeping school finance reform, which would direct significantly more money to low-income students and English learners, as “just.” And he juxtaposed the “moral power” of his plan, treating “unequals in a more equal way,” with the “political power” of the opponents.

Advocates for high-needs students praised Brown for sticking with the formula. “I’m extraordinarily pleased; the proposal, with the Common Core investment, is stunningly positive across the board,” said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Oakland-based Education Trust-West. EdVoice, a Sacramento advocacy group, called for the LCFF’s passage. “It’s time to enact a financing system that makes sense for students by transparently investing in programs and instruction where the students with the greatest need, and generate the extra resources, actually go to school,” said CEO and President Bill Lucia in a press release.

But Brown’s pitch to fairness didn’t silence critics who fault specifics of the plan while granting the rightness of the cause. “The Governor’s Local Control Funding Formula is the right policy direction, but our serious concern about how it’s accomplished remains,” Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement. He argues that the distribution formula for high-needs students needs fixing, and some priority programs, like career and technical education, need protecting.

Gov. Brown explains how the Local Control Funding Formula would work during a press conference in Sacramento on the May revision of the state budget.

Gov. Brown explains how the Local Control Funding Formula would work during a press conference in Sacramento on the May revision of the state budget.

Districts without high-needs students, which won’t get an infusion of extra dollars from the LCFF, continued to argue that they will not be made whole. Cindy Marks, president of the California School Boards Association, called for full restoration of their budget cuts. “CSBA will continue to make our case before the governor and Legislature … without an increase to base funding, local educational agencies will be unable to restore needed programs and services that benefit all students,” she said in a press release.

Stricter rules for extra dollars

In the revised budget, Brown did strengthen the accountability piece of the LCFF, as Ramanathan and other advocates for the disadvantaged had called for. Districts would be obligated to spend the money they get for high-needs students on those children. And county offices of education would have the authority to audit the spending and reject districts’ spending plans for those students when districts fail to meet academic targets two out of three years. Districts that persistently fall short of their goals, as determined by the State Board of Education, could face stiffer sanctions.

The revised budget adds requirements not included in the January budget; it would have imposed an accountability plan only when the LCFF was fully implemented – a serious flaw, said John Affeldt, managing attorney for Public Advocates, a public interest law firm. Instead, districts must lay out how they will spend additional money as they gradually receive it. Affeldt said that Department of Finance officials have said that the detailed budget bill will require that districts’ academic plans outlining spending on targeted students include breakdowns at the school site level – a key change that he and other groups had sought.

Big dollars for Common Core

Brown has called for more district autonomy over spending decisions, and this included, in his January budget plan, giving districts total say over how and whether to spend money on textbooks and teacher training. But Brown is now proposing to earmark $1 billion of the unanticipated money under Proposition 98 for Common Core. Districts will have two years to spend the money, amounting to $167 per student, and will have discretion over how it will be used: materials, training or technology.

Both chairs of the Assembly and Senate education committees, Sen. Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, had urged Brown to include money specifically for Common Core in the May revision, and he did. Brown called the adoption of the Common Core standards by the State Board of Education “a great intellectual move” but acknowledged it will be a challenging exercise requiring time and training to put into effect.

Michael Kirst, president of the State Board of Education, praised the call for additional funding as “a positive shot in the arm for the national movement” for the Common Core standards, which 45 states have adopted. “When many states and the news media are playing up states having second thoughts, California is moving ahead in a dramatic way, really putting an effort behind this,” he said.

California Teachers Association President Dean Vogel characterized the spending on Common Core as “great and welcome news for California’s students,” adding that “educators must have the support and resources they need in order for the new standards to be implemented effectively.” (Vogel, who represents “winners” and “losers” under finance reform, was more reserved about the LCFF. While endorsing its goals, he said, “We look forward to having many more discussions in the next few weeks as the state budget is finalized.”)

The Department of Finance released this explanation to illustrate how the LCFF formula would work for a high school district in which 58 percent of students were either low-income students or English learners. On top of the base amount of $7,895 per student, it would receive a supplemental grant worth 35 percent of the base for every high-needs student. Since they comprise 58 percent of the student body, that averages out to $1,625 per student; on top of that there will be an additional  35 percent concentration grant for the 8 percent of students above the 50 percent threshold for the grant. That averages another $243 per student for a district total, once the LCFF is fully implemented, of $9,763. However, the example overstates how much most districts would receive, since high school districts would receive about $1,000 per student more in base funding and proportionally more in supplemental funding than the average unified and elementary district.

The Department of Finance released this explanation to illustrate how the LCFF formula would work for a high school district in which 58 percent of students were either low-income students or English learners. On top of the base amount of $7,895 per student, it would receive a supplemental grant worth 35 percent of the base for every high-needs student. Since they comprise 58 percent of the student body, that averages out to $1,625 per student; on top of that there will be an additional 35 percent concentration grant for the 8 percent of students above the 50 percent threshold for the grant. That averages another $243 per student for a district total, once the LCFF is fully implemented, of $9,763. However, the example overstates how much most districts would receive, since high school districts would receive about $1,000 per student more in base funding and proportionally more in supplemental funding than the average unified and elementary district.

In addition to the $1 billion for Common Core, Brown would use the extra Prop. 98 money next year in two ways that will benefit districts:

  • Speed up the payoff of deferrals by an extra $1.6 billion. Deferrals are year-late payments owed to districts that force them to borrow money to make payroll, and have created havoc for some districts. Two years ago, deferrals totaled nearly $10 billion; the administration is projecting they will be paid off by 2014-15, one year ahead of schedule.
  • Accelerate phasing in LCFF by adding $240 million on top of the $1.6 billion already budgeted for 2013-14. That’s about one eighth of the $17.4 billion – $2,700 per student – in additional money that Brown is projecting for K-12 over the next seven years.

In defense of the formula

At full implementation under the LCFF, Brown is proposing:

  • A base grant for all districts, averaging $6,816 per student – $1,548 more than they’re currently getting. High school districts would get $1,000 more per student and elementary districts would receive more, too, for smaller classes. Brown has said no district would receive less than it’s receiving this year, and all would be repaid the 23 percent cut in base funding, known as the revenue limit, they’ve been hit with since 2007-08. But Chris Learned, associate superintendent of Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County, said that funding for his district would not return to its 2007-08 level until 2017-18 under the formula. The basic grant does not include necessary funding for counselors, building maintenance and professional development that had been funded through categorical programs, he said. “The LCFF is not kind to districts that have gone without for five years,” like Acalanes, with less than 5 percent disadvantaged students.
  • A supplement of 35 percent, averaging about $2,400, for every low-income student, English learner and foster youth.
  • A bonus grant for those districts where targeted youth are a majority, to counteract the compounded problems of concentrations of poverty. The grant would be only about $50 per student in districts with 51 percent high-needs students, growing to about $1,200 in districts with 100 percent high-needs students.

Senate Democrats have focused criticism on the concentration grant, which would be distributed based on the number of high-needs students per district, not per school. Districts like Newport-Mesa Unified, with high-poverty schools located within an average- or high-wealth districts, would not be eligible for these extra dollars. Stating that the “concentration grants treat thousands of disadvantaged students unequally,” Steinberg’s press release included an Excel spreadsheet showing “405 California schools and tens of thousands of students who would not qualify for the administration’s LCFF formula concentration grants because they’re within school districts whose overall level of disadvantaged students is fewer than 50 percent.”

Brown pointed to a poster with a dollar bill to make his clearest, strongest defense of the piece of the funding formula that would give extra money to districts with the highest concentrations of poverty. To Senate Democrats and others who have criticized the approach, Brown noted that it makes up only 4 percent.

Brown pointed to a poster with a dollar bill to make his clearest, strongest defense of the piece of the funding formula that would give extra money to districts with the highest concentrations of poverty. To Senate Democrats and others who have criticized the approach, Brown noted that it makes up only 4 percent of funding.

But Brown, equipped with a prop at the press conference, made his clearest and simplest explanation of the formula. Pointing to a big dollar bill, he said that 80 cents of the LCFF would go to the base funding for all students; all high-needs students would get an additional 16 cents, and only 4 cents out of every dollar would go to the concentration grant. He defended the concentration grant as critical to schools that need an extra boost, while stating its impact on the overall LCFF has been misunderstood.

“Spending more on our most challenged districts is key for our future economic well-being,” Brown said. He added, When people from Beverly Hills, Palo Alto or Piedmont “start telling me they’re going to move to Compton or Watts to get the extra money, then I’ll know there’s a problem.”

During a teleconference on the education plan, Nicolas Schweizer, the Department of Finance’s expert on school finance, elaborated. “People are confusing the concentration grant, assuming districts get a lot more money” once the number of targeted students hits 50 percent. Because it is phased in, the difference in extra money between a district with 48 percent needy students and one with 52 percent is minimal, he said.

With Senate Democrats endorsing the goals of finance reform and Brown rallying advocates and urban superintendents behind it, passage of the LCFF appears more likely than a month ago. That’s not to say there won’t be changes. Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, said the Assembly Budget Committee’s subcommittee on school finance, which she chairs, will hold a series of hearings next week on ways to add more money to the base funding; that, she said, would be the number one priority. Whatever results will incorporate principles similar to the governor’s plan, but may adopt a different timeline or approach, she said. “We need to address holding districts harmless in a real way.”

Filed under: Common Core, High-Needs Students, Local Control Funding Formula, Reforms, School Finance, State Education Policy

Tags:

Comments

EdSource encourages a robust debate on education issues and welcomes comments from our readers. The level of thoughtfulness of our community of readers is rare among online news sites. To preserve a civil dialogue, writers should avoid personal, gratuitous attacks and invective. Comments should be relevant to the subject of the article responded to. EdSource retains the right not to publish inappropriate and non-germaine comments. EdSource encourages commenters to use their real names. Commenters who do decide to use a pseudonym should use it consistently.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

28 Responses to “Brown commits $1 billion for Common Core, sticks with funding formula”

  1. Paul Muench said

    on May 15, 2013 at 4:55 am

    Maybe Governer Brown should listen to Dionne Warwick more often. At least then he’d be asking a more relevant question. I think it will be much more interesting to see how these incentives affect San Jose than Palo Alto.

  2. Paul said

    on May 15, 2013 at 8:47 am

    People from San Jose can always join their counterparts from Palo Alto, ‘pack their cars and ride away’ to other school districts that will be flush with concentration funds! Since the home-to-school categorical will remain, we could even bus students to poor school districts!

    The overall percentages on Brown’s dollar bill graph put the matter in perspective. I’m tired of hearing individual school districts whine about a sincere attempt to cure 35- to 40-year-old funding inequities AND address contemporary social conditions. In typical California fashion, the “winners” and “losers” will fight over the details, time will run out this year, political will will run out next year, and we’ll be left with much less rational funding arrangements stemming from Serrano v. Priest in the 1970s.

    Incidentally, did anyone else spot a common visual lie in Brown’s dollar bill graph? Hint: cf. Tufte.

    • Manuel replied

      on May 15, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Initially, I thought that it was “not to scale.”

      But the horizontal scale is right, and, even though the bill is stretched vertically, the vertical size is just a common factor. Then I noticed that the slide has been compressed horizontally so that’s even less of a factor.

      I give up. What is the common visual lie, in your opinion?

      • John Fensterwald replied

        on May 15, 2013 at 10:43 am

        The photo distortion may be on my end — the blog software in sizing up photos. Our new tech admin start next week, so I was going solo. Which is to say I don’t know the answer either …

        • Manuel replied

          on May 16, 2013 at 1:12 pm

          It is the fault of the WordPress template used to put together the web pages. Hopefully your new admin knows how to change the settings and all will be right with the world.

    • Paul replied

      on May 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

      Oh no, not at all, John! Just a gratuitous 2-dimensional representation of 1-dimensional data, but Manuel’s right, the areas are proportional here (one bill of uniform height is divided up), so the Governor’s graphic passes muster after all. See p. 70 of Dr. Edward Tufte’s “The Visual Design of Quantitative Information” for a distorted dollar-bill graphic, in which shrinking bills are used to demonstrate inflation, but the bills are shrunk in both dimemsions.

    • Eric Premack replied

      on May 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      People in San Jose can also take solace that the Governor proposes to continue their $1,000 per student in Targeted Instructional Improvement Grants–fully flexed and in perpetuity.

    • Paul Muench replied

      on May 15, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      That basic argument is a double edged sword as it can work for either position. I think there is a genuine need for communities of mixed economic conditions.

  3. Paul said

    on May 15, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I should say, “stemming from knee-jerk responses to Serrano v. Priest in the 1970s.” The intention of the case was good; politicians clearly botched the legislative responses.

  4. Eric Premack said

    on May 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Senator Steinberg’s list also fails to note that many charter schools serving high proportions of students eligible for concentration grants won’t be funded under Brown’s proposal because he artifically caps their concentration funding at the level of the local school district.

    It’s also disappointing that the May Revise failed to address the huge inequities in the Home-to-School Transportation and Targeted Instructional Improvement Grant programs. These two are most egregiously inequitable and indefensible current categorical programs. Both will remain outside of the LCFF and will apparently remain fully flexed in perpetuity for most districts.

  5. David Wojtkowski said

    on May 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Any word on basic aid, “excess revenue” districts? Is there a new updated published list of District expectations per ADA?

  6. Jerry Heverly said

    on May 15, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    May I ask some questions?
    “And county offices of education would have the authority to audit the spending and reject districts’ spending plans for those students when districts fail to meet academic targets two out of three years. Districts that persistently fall short of their goals, as determined by the State Board of Education, could face stiffer sanctions.”
    Does this refer to Program Improvement? or some state version of that? Will it be NCLB-like where districts can be deficient if one subgroup doesn’t meet a goal? When would the counting start? If our scores were not up 5% this year would that mean we weren’t meeting academic targets? Would only CCSS scores count or STAR tests? Any idea what the stiffer sanctions might be?

    Why is the base grant $7,895 in the graphic but $6,816 in the text? Is there a difference between “Base Grant” and “Base Grant per ADA”?

    • John Fensterwald replied

      on May 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm

      Jerry: $7,895 refers to the base grant for high schools.$6,816 is the average base grant for all grades.

  7. David Wojtkowski said

    on May 16, 2013 at 6:52 am

    So where’s the evidence that an influx of $$ without any overall accountability helps students? Are schools in New Jersey or Washington DC, where the spending per ADA is way higher than California, offering any better results?? Here in San Diego, it appears the first few years of LCFF increases will go almost exclusively to promised teacher pay raises that result in no improvements for schools or students. Handing out money without any restrictions or accountability is never a good idea and cannot exist in a State where teachers’ unions are so powerful.

    • el replied

      on May 16, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Teachers have been going without raises for years in many districts and actually took pay cuts in some, or shouldered a larger share of health care benefits. They did that (often with extra duties too) with the tacit bargain that they’d expect to see increases when the money came back; the cuts were not sustainable. You can only cut people’s compensation for so long before they start looking elsewhere.

      A happy staff is good for schools and good for students.

    • Gary Ravani replied

      on May 13, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      So, you are suggesting that low compensation for the work force increased productivity? The floggings will continue until morale improves?

      There is a national test for elementary students, as there is one for secondary, called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka, the NAEP.

      The highest performing states on the NAEP are located in the northeast quadrant of the nation. The states with the highest percentages of unionized teachers are located in the northeast quadrant of the nation. The states with the highest spending per student for K-12 education are in the northeast quadrant of the nation.

      The lowest performing states on the NAEP are located in the southeast quadrant of the nation. States where collective bargaining for teachers is against the law are in the southeast quadrant of the nation. (there fore teacher unionization is very low). The lowest spending states per student for K-12 education are located in the southeast quadrant of the nation.

      There are outliers in each category that, of course, do not prove the rule. CA is a very low spending state even though it is in the west. Washington DC, if it was a state which it is not, is high spending because it has high number of students who qualify for special kinds of programs. It is intensely impacted by poverty, crime, drugs, etc.

      There are many private schools that have none of the accountability measures that public schools are subject to, and these private schools often cost $30K per year. Money, sans conventional “accountability,” seems to be buying something.

  8. CarolineSF said

    on May 16, 2013 at 7:34 am

    New Jersey is one of the top-scoring states in the nation. D.C., clearly, is a badly troubled school system, but it’s also a school district extraordinarily overwhelmed by its high-poverty population.

    Offered just as a point of information: The most strongly unionized states correlate with the highest academic performance, and the opposite is true — the lowest-performing states correlate with weak or no union protections.

  9. David Wojtkowski said

    on May 16, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Caroline – California is by far one of the highest unionized states. If memory serves me correct there are only two states that have a law dictating first in, last out – California and NY. Even if the local union and District wanted to change the order they furlough employees they wouldn’t be allowed to by state law. We also have some of the worst “scores” – I don’t believe there’s much of a national test for elementary students yet. The only state I’ve ever seen that even compares on an international scoring is MA – and I imagine they have strong unions. However, I’m not against unions per se, I just don’t agree that blindly throwing money at a school will fix any problem. Is there evidence of that in NJ?

    • el replied

      on May 17, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Any situation where you’re regularly laying off teachers because of a lack of funding (rather than say from declining enrollment) is pretty much dysfunctional from the get go. If teachers need to be removed because they’re not performing, that’s an entirely different process (and both processes can be happening in parallel).

      Most police and fire departments are also last in first out. Don’t know why people don’t fret about that.

      I don’t know, but I would be surprised to hear after years of national angst that CA and NY are the only states practicing this strategy.

      LIFO is not an absolute strategy in any case. It only applies within job descriptions.

    • el replied

      on May 17, 2013 at 8:24 am

      By the way, you’ll be cheered to know there is no need to blindly throw money at schools. We hire smart capable people to run them who are supposed to be very good at allocating money to the needs of the kids in their districts. If your district’s administrators aren’t bright capable people who put the needs of kids first, then taking money away won’t help that either.

  10. David Wojtkowski said

    on May 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    el – the difference between CA/NY and other states is that it’s a law in CA. So even if the bargaining unit wanted to save some junior teachers or introduce something like performance into the equation when it comes to furloughs, it would not be allowed. As far as fire and police – I’m more concerned about teacher quality. I only need a basic qualified policeman and fireman to make my community safe. I really need great teachers to affect the community. The performance by teachers is far more important than by Fire and Police. I also don’t believe that’s codified in law – first in, last out.

    • navigio replied

      on May 30, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      David, I think you underestimate the role of policemen and firemen, as well as what it means for them to be basically qualified.

      Regardless, I am dismayed at the lack of focus on quality administration. A quality principal is perhaps one of the most important ingredients to a quality school. Its true a school with great teachers and a mediocre principal will be fine for a while, but it will eventually suffer. And a great principal will definitely improve a mediocre school (whatever that means). Even more, its possible to get a great principal by accident, but only a quality central office hiring staff/process can make that intentional. I would much rather be able to rely on a quality process like that than jump around the district to the schools who happen to have the great principals at the moment..

    • Manuel replied

      on May 30, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      I am curious to know how you would determine if a teacher is effective or not. Would you please elaborate so I’ll know where your base line is? I would not want to assume I can read between the lines. Thanks!

  11. Paula Campbell said

    on May 13, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Josephine Lucey is the current president of CSBA. thanks.

    • John Fensterwald replied

      on May 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      You are correct, Paula. This post was written a year ago, when Cindy Marks was the president.
      John

Template last modified: