Gov. Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown

Democrats in the Legislature may find themselves at odds with Gov. Jerry Brown on two issues that will factor large when Brown reveals his revised state budget Tuesday: how to spend billions in unanticipated revenue and how to reshape Brown’s sweeping plan for funding K-12 education.

As of now, the state is on target to collect $4.5 billion more than expected in personal income taxes, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Democratic leaders in the Legislature have no shortage of ways they’d like to see that money spent, such as expanding mental health care, restoring adult dental care, eliminating fees for preschool that went into effect this year, and providing more state aid for college students.

The problem for them is that as much as 90 percent of that extra money may be legally bound for K-12 and community colleges. Normally, under Proposition 98 (later modified by Proposition 111), which defines spending minimums for education, school districts and community colleges can count on about 40 cents of every dollar in state revenue. But when times are good, as they are this year, and the state owes districts for past cuts and missed cost-of-living increases, as is the case, then it can rise to 90 cents on a dollar.

Of course, with all things Proposition 98, these figures are subject to interpretation/manipulation by the Department of Finance based on technicalities of the law. So some money could end up on the non-Prop. 98 side of the ledger.

The LAO has concluded that the extra revenue is a one-time bump, resulting from wealthy individuals cashing out capital gains and dividends before higher federal taxes for upper-income earners went into effect in January.The ever-prudent Brown will likely agree that this money won’t be recurring.

Both Sen. Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, who chair the education committees in the Senate and Assembly, have called for using a piece of the windfall to help school districts train teachers and acquire technology and materials needed to implement the Common Core standards. But Brown instead may want to speed up paying off $6 billion in late payments to schools, known as deferrals; he has said that’s his priority. Accelerating the scheduled payoff will free up more money for the classroom sooner than Brown had projected. It also would quicken the implementation of Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, which Brown has projected to be phased in over seven years.

Will Brown compromise on the funding formula? 

The other big question is how much Brown will alter the LCFF to accommodate critics within his own party. Probably not much, based on his full-throttle defense of his proposal at a press conference two weeks ago. He vowed then “to fight with everything I have and whatever we have to bring to bear” to pass his plan as is. Few expect that will be the final word, though, as the LCFF goes through negotiations.

Brown is proposing a uniform base spending amount per student: about $6,800 per student once fully phased in. He’d steer an additional 35 percent for every low-income student and English learner: from $2,220 for those in K-3 to $2,688 for those in high school. On top of this supplement, Brown is proposing a “concentration grant,” a bonus per student for those districts in which high-needs students make up at least a majority.

Democrats have praised the framework of the LCFF: simplifying and making funding more uniform; targeting more money to disadvantaged youth; shifting more control over dollars from Sacramento to the districts. But Senate Democrats have proposed changes to the formula, and Assembly Democratic leaders, while not laying out an alternative, have raised similar concerns. Here are four issues that Brown may address in the revised budget tomorrow:

  • Will the base be raised?

Brown has said that no district will get less money under the formula and that districts’ pre-recession base spending, plus COLAs, will be restored. But suburban districts with few high-needs students argue that they won’t actually be held harmless and instead will lose hundreds of dollars per student.

  • Will he modify the concentration factor?

Senate Democrats aren’t persuaded that this money, to counter the impact of living in high-poverty neighborhoods, is needed or distributed wisely; Brown wants to allocate it by district, not by school site. They’re proposing to rechannel the money to increase the base spending for all students and the supplement for disadvantaged children. Brown could compromise by limiting the bonus money only to districts with the highest concentrations of targeted students.

  • Will he stiffen accountability provisions?

Under his principle of local control, Brown would give districts more power to spend money as they choose. To ensure that supplemental dollars are spent on the intended students, he would require that district write a detailed spending and academic plan, with the money tied to academic improvement. County offices of education would examine the plan.

But not only legislators but also advocates for poor kids and English learners want tighter requirements; Senate Democrats would reimpose state controls if the extra money doesn’t bring results.

  • Will he remove some programs from the formula?

Brown has excluded two big categorical programs, totaling $1.3 billion, from formula: home to school transportation and desegregation dollars, called TIIG. The LAO and Public Policy Institute of California argue those formulas are inequitable already and shouldn’t be protected. Advocates of teacher training and career technical training say funding for these legislative priorities should be preserved and not left to local control. The one area that Brown is expected to substantially revise is adult education (see sidebar).

Filed under: Equity issues, Featured, Foster care, K-12 Reform, Local Control Funding Formula, Poverty, Proposition 98, Reporting & Analysis, School Finance · Tags:

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  1. I can understand your concern. Sounds good, right? I think Brown feels the same way. I wish I could find that letter on A4CAS – from James Gulli, retired Dean of Citrus College. And of course, both Tom Torlakson of CDE and the LAO – non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office – both say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” To my 53 year old born and raised in CA went thru Prop 13 daughter and granddaughter and niece of teachers in various districts and places and levels, and a teacher herself… shifting things over… making a new system… contracting out… that sounds like time and energy and people and money. Heavy on the last two. Which has seemed to be real good. You can go to and see Paul Steenhausen of the LAO talk about all this. He was a keynote speaker at the state conf. All the keynote speaker videos are avaiable now. There is also a lot of info out there on why grounding AE in K12, particularly the ESL and Family Literacy, is the best thing. You also might want to check the KQED ESL Insights series with Maxine Einhorn. She recently held a panel at CATESOL where there 2 folks from CC and 2 from AE. It was quite intersting. One thing I’m learning is that non-credit CC – which is AE – often finds itself in a position of defense with credit CC. That’s what James Gulli was saying. If you go to there are some good comments there. Not talking about mine! The more I get into all this… the more I see how complicated it is… BUT here’s the thing: AE works! It was workign GREAT! The problem was NOT the delivery system. The problem was the crash! But now that we’ve had the crash…. sure, I understand… people want to look at everything. While you/we are doing that, check out ALLIES. That’s a program in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties that works to coordinate programs between Adult Schools and CCs. I think this is what the LAO is wanting more of. Finally (wait, didn’t I already say “finally”? lol… )… there is the very important question of what lens we’re using to look at all this. Is this about “work force.” If we use that lens, it’s easy to think a lot of AE is extraneous and needs to be trimmed down, tightened up and otherwise put in the Army. Even if we stick with that lens, let’s stop and think about the economic contributions seniors make… first of all, some of them WORK, like Brown. Others serve as free caregivers. Others provide free childcare to working adult children. Others volunteer in schools and in the community. But does everything have to be looked at through the “work lens”? What about looking at “societal health” – some kind of larger lens… that acknowledges that poorly educated people who can’t speak the same language and are in physical and mental poor health a great and prosperous and thriving culture do not make. We talk about penny wise and pound foolish… but as with everything, we usually get backwards. If i could do my own “streamlining” and “ship-shaping,” I’d have everyone on 5 fruits and vegetables plus exericse learning something new each day. EVERYONE. Just ask my daughter! Boy, would we save money then! But life is more complicated than that. Adult Ed started in settlement houses… it’s about helping people grown into that next step… whether it’s getting their GED to go on a job or college or leraning English or regaining custody of their child or regaining a “life” after widowhood and loss. It all matters. Sorry this is so long. Five years of thinkign and writing about something will do that to you. Cheers – Cynthia

  2. Scott says:

    I concur that designated funding needs to be provided for adult education. However, I continue to think it would be more effective to assign the AE designated funding to community colleges, while allowing and encouraging the community colleges when needed to contract with K-12 districts for these services. This would provide for more flexibility to adjust the AE programs via service contracts, insure that one primary agency is designated for this mission, and increase accountability.


  3. Thanks for the excellent article and the special box on Adult Ed.
    Scott, I think you may be thinking of just the GED/HS diploma/young adult folks. Adult Ed serves many. check out for a good post on 173, the programs that are left out, and the ripple effect that would have. Re: “be careful what you ask for.” Any district – K12 or CC – can be hostile to AE or be put in a situation where it has to make “survivor” choices, which destroy or diminish AE in the process. It’s a lot of work to really understand AE… but it’s worth doing… in order to better understand what has happened these past 5 years. A few more bits: Somewhere on the (Alliance for California Adult Schools) is a letter from James Gulli on on why CCs can sometimes not be the right nest for AE. I am NOT advocating that AE be moved – anywhere. Wherever it is, let it remain there. But let it have designated funding. And its mission remain the same. I am STILL waiting for that large investigative, comprehensive piece of journalism that will examine the burgeoning senior population and the cost that will mean to our state if we do not have free or low-cost Older Adults programs for seniors. is a good place to start if someone has that calling and wants to pick up the task. Something else to consider: rural areas do not have the same number of CCs that urban areas do. CCs in rural areas would most likely have to contract with K12 districts to provide AE. Why add another layer of bureacracy? Finally, as a third generation public educator, I can tell you that corruption and idiocy are always part of civic and educational life. They just are. Whether that’s in rural, urban, small town, big city, public, private, K12, CC, UC, teachers’ unions, or whathaveyou. Let us do the best we can to serve our people in a wise way, thinking of those who paid for it in the past, those who need it now, and those who will need it in the future, as we consider our options. I know I’ve forgotten something here. The Save Our Adult School blog is really excellent and I urge you to check it out. I run the Adult Education Matters blog. And started the Rebuild Adult Ed Petition. And last thing… tomorrow, many in AE – both CC and K12 – will be wearing REd in Unity for Adult Ed. The Gov’s proposal sent the energy to the differences between the systems and put everyone’s focus on the weaknesses of each. It’s good to look at one’s weaknesses. It’s good, as individuals, organizations, and states, to strive for improvement. It’s also good to assess one’s strengths, to understand commonality of purpose, the context that created loss and destruction, and keep a sharp eye on who benefited or will benefited from those losses. Adult Ed, whether grounded in K12 or CC, did not cause the economic collapse that set all this in motion. But more than any other branch of public education, we took the fall. Unfair. But we’re still here. We still matter. Because people do. Thanks, cynthia

  4. Scott says:

    I concur that adult education is an important strand in the educational safety net. However, from my experience, there’s an extraordinary amount of effort that goes into attempting to coordinate and align the services offered by Adult Ed. and Community Colleges. Often these efforts result in redundancy of services and, more importantly, in many missed opportunities to help move systematically and effective build a pathway for adults, particularly young adults to move from unemployment and/or low wage jobs to careers and/or jobs that provide a living wage and more opportunity for financial and professional advancement. A potential resolution to resolve this issue could be found in designating funding to go directly to community colleges for the purpose of delivering adult education services. During a transition period the community colleges could then contract back with school districts for some or all of these adult education services, while the community colleges and school districts complete the administrative and programmatic alignment that would optimize the delivery of these services. I hope that Governor Brown does not miss this opportunity to make this change.

    1. el says:

      Scott, I would be interested in hearing more details of why you feel that way. Since this proposal came out, I’ve heard a lot of convincing information about why the delivery is best at the K-12 campuses, and the importance of bonding parents into the school system. It seems to me that you are thinking more about very young adults who have left high school and who need more schooling to be ready for the community college. I wonder how much it varies by community as well.

      1. Scott says:

        I know of multiple examples of community colleges housing and offering course work on K-12 school sites and/or facilities. In addition, K-12 and community colleges already do extensive work on trying to coordinate their programmatic offerings, including a variety of efforts to smooth the transition of high school students from high school and/or alternative education programs to the community colleges. These collaborative efforts, to varying degrees, are operating between community colleges and K-12 districts throughout the state. These efforts should continue and get even more robust.

        In my view, the goal of public school adult education programs is to provide both young adults and older adults with pathways from unemployment or under-employment to work skills and/or certification in programs that will provide them with the technical skills to succeed and get employment and/or prepares them for further higher education. The local community colleges have a wide range of programs to both remediate deficiencies and to provide course pathways that lead to a multitude of certification programs that don’t necessarily require a Bachelors degree.

        If it’s programmatically more effective to offer adult education in K-12 settings, then it’s entirely feasible for the community colleges to contract back with local school districts to offer these services and/or for the community college to provide these services at a K-12 school site. If parent English proficiency courses, GED course work, or other programs make sense to locate at K-12 sites, then the community colleges and the K-12 districts have already demonstrated that they can make these arrangements. By placing the locus of responsibility for these services in the community colleges, policy makers will be placing the administrative accountability for the alignment and coordination of these services in one agency, the community colleges.
        In my view, K-12 school districts need to focus on K-12 education, which by the way includes alternative education pathways for high school students who are at risk of not successfully graduating and preparing high school students to take the exams for the GED. Young adults and older adults who haven’t graduated from high school need to be provided with multiple pathways to complete high school. K-12 districts should continue to work collaboratively with community colleges to locate and/or provide these programs in accessible locations, however, it’s time to consolidate the overall responsibility for these services in one agency, namely, the community colleges.

  5. Fred Jones says:

    I believe Mr. Heverly has an excellent point … from the frying pan into the fire for Adult Ed (the fire being the diversion of protected funding streams to anything LEAs want to spend the $ on). And since Adult Ed doesn’t serve LEAs “bottom line” of budgetary balance, high-stakes testing and API scores, etc., be careful what you ask for, Adult Ed advocates!

  6. is this a reasonable guess? The legislature balks at sending Adult school responsibilities to the JC’s. But the Governor is adamant about his LCFF plans. So the money goes to the districts with no categorical. Since districts have already laid off staff they see this as a windfall, money needed to satisfy angry teachers’ unions demanding raises. Thus adult schools disappear from Oakland and a dozen other districts, or maybe they retain English-as-a-second language and dump the rest?

  7. Fred Jones says:

    Excellent reporting, John (and team)! Good summary of the choices and potential fault-lines between Legislature and Governor. I am curious to see whether Assembly Democrats pick up the SB 69 alternative coming from the Senate and make that their own, or whether they divine their own LCFF alternative. Time will be a factor, with the new fiscal year starting just month-and-a-half away.

  8. el says:

    I think it’s appropriate for transportation to be held out separate from the LCFF. Districts have wildly different expenses per student based on where they are in the state; many schools don’t need to provide transportation at all. It should be noted that there is a third alternative, which is to revise the formula for how those dollars are allocated.