Assembly adds its version of school finance reform to the mix

May 24, 2013

The Assembly has produced its own version of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, further complicating the governor’s goal of passing school finance reform as part of the new state budget by July 1.

Taking the form of a one-page set of principles that the Assembly Budget Committee’s subcommittee on education finance approved on Thursday, with one Republican not voting (Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert), it endorses the basics of Brown’s LCFF while suggesting complex variations to key aspects of it. The full Budget Committee is expected to adopt it Tuesday, sending it to conference committee where it must be melded with the Senate’s alternative to LCFF and negotiated with Brown.

Brown’s aim is to create a more equitable and uniform school funding system by directing more money to high-needs students. The Assembly’s version agrees, but it also responds to complaints by suburban districts they they’ve been treated unfairly and by some districts with pockets of poverty that argue their high-needs students are being shortchanged.

“We’re taking the pragmatic view, with limited dollars, of wanting to meet needs of all students but recognize at same time, that the equity issue is important,” said Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, whose budget subcommittee on education finance held hearings on the LCFF and Brown’s education spending plan this week.

When fully implemented over seven years, Brown’s plan would have three basic elements: base funding, averaging about $6,800 for every student; a 35 percent supplement for every low-income student, foster youth and English learner; and a graduated concentration grant for those districts where high-need students comprise at least a majority of students.

The Senate version would eliminate the concentration grant and instead raise the base and supplemental amounts.

The Assembly would keep Brown’s three components, but percentages for the supplemental and concentration grants would be smaller. How much won’t be known for a week, as staff run through various scenarios, Bonilla said. Several factors are at play:

Other features of the Assembly plan:

 

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