The state’s new education funding formula provides extra money for all low-income children, students learning English and foster youth, and contributes more dollars if they make up the bulk of students in a district. But if these “high-need” kids happen to be concentrated in a few schools within wealthier districts, they get less funding than they would receive in a poor district, a recent study revealed. The report also cautioned that districts’ accountability plans lacked the information to determine if the students were receiving the help they needed.

In “Implementing California’s School Funding Formula: Will High-Need Students Benefit?” researchers Laura Hill and Iwunze Ugo of the Public Policy Institute of California quantified a dilemma of the new funding system. There are 200,000 high-need students in 677 schools throughout the state who don’t draw maximum dollars under the formula because their districts don’t qualify as high-need. The funding formula “has not eliminated all concerns about funding adequacy and about how districts with unevenly distributed high-need students will allocate funds to students,” the report released last week said.

This shows the distribution of high-need students, defined under the formula as low-income children, students learning English and foster youths, by county. They are most heavily concentrated in Imperial, Monterey and Yolo counties and counties in the Central Valley. Disparities between high-need and wealthy schools within districts are most prevalent  in the Bay Area and Orange County.

Source: Public Policy Institute of California.

This map shows the distribution of high-need students, defined under the formula as low-income children, students learning English and foster youths, by county. They are most heavily concentrated in Imperial, Monterey and Yolo counties and counties in the Central Valley. Disparities between high-need and wealthy schools within districts are most prevalent in the Bay Area and Orange County.

Under the formula that Gov. Jerry Brown pushed and the Legislature passed two years ago, a school district annually receives a base level of funding for every student plus a 20 percent supplement for each high-need student; that’s an average of about $1,500 extra per student per year, with some variation by grade. Districts with at least 55 percent high-need students receive additional “concentration” dollars for every student above the threshold. For districts with a high-need population of 60 percent (5 percent over the threshold), the concentration funding amounts to only a couple of hundred dollars per student. But for districts with 90 percent high-need students, the per-student concentration grant can be $2,000 or more each year.

The formula is calculated on districtwide student numbers, not on a schoolwide basis, even though in many large urban and suburban districts, particularly in the Bay Area and Southern California, property values create distinct neighborhoods of poverty and wealth. As a result, poor kids living in largely middle-class and wealthy districts get the 20 percent supplemental funding but not the concentration add-on.

The study cited two elementary schools in Capistrano Unified in Orange County; one school had 97 percent high-need students and the other 91 percent, yet in the district overall, only 24 percent of students qualified for extra money. In one elementary school in Carmel Unified, 76 percent of students qualified as high-need, compared with 17 percent in the district overall.

This funding issue was debated in the Legislature when the Local Control Funding Formula was proposed, said Carolyn Chu, a senior analyst with the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Concentration dollars recognize that districts need extra funding to help mitigate the challenges posed by the large proportions of non-English-speaking families and pervasive poverty. Proponents of the formula, including Brown and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who co-wrote the concept paper behind the formula, insisted that calculations be done at the district level, where state funding had always flowed, Chu said. One reason was to prevent a perverse incentive to redraw school boundaries to attract more concentration dollars. That would compound the problem of poverty, she said.

Calculating funding by school also would have increased the state’s cost to fund the formula – or required raising the high-need threshold to qualify for concentration dollars, she said. The tradeoff was that some high-need schools would get less money than their counterparts in poorer districts. The LAO agreed with Brown’s design, Chu said.

To ensure that supplemental money reaches high-need students in districts where they aren’t heavily concentrated, the state board added a requirement in the spending regulations. Districts can spread the money across the district – to extend the school day or provide language coaches in every school ­– only if it’s the most effective use of the money and mainly benefits high-need students. Otherwise, the money should be more narrowly targeted to meet these students’ needs. Starting this year, districts also must provide research to justify using money allotted for high-need students for districtwide programs and purposes.

In the Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, that districts must complete annually, districts are supposed to spell out how they will increase and improve programs and services for high-need children proportional to the extra money that they attract to the district. However, state regulations don’t require a strict accounting for the spending.

And, the study said, there weren’t enough details in many of the first-year LCAPs, which districts completed last spring, to know for certain how money was spent. Several studies of first-year LCAPs – by researchers Daniel Humphrey and Julia Koppich, by Education Trust-West, and a separate study by PPIC researcher Paul Warren – reached the same general conclusion. In many of the 25 LCAPs examined, Warren wrote, “the action and budget sections of many plans were only marginally effective at outlining strategies for improving the quality of education.”

PPIC concluded it will be years before researchers and the community will be able to look at student outcomes to determine if the money was spent effectively.

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  1. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Again, this study is focused on the most equitable and effective allocation of deck chairs on the Titanic of US school funding. The question about LCFF funds being used most effectively is far outweighed by the questions about CA's state funding per child being enough to be effective period. The only answers to the real question can be found in looking at NAEP scores. Those states in the US that have the highest scores are … Read More

    Again, this study is focused on the most equitable and effective allocation of deck chairs on the Titanic of US school funding. The question about LCFF funds being used most effectively is far outweighed by the questions about CA’s state funding per child being enough to be effective period.

    The only answers to the real question can be found in looking at NAEP scores. Those states in the US that have the highest scores are almost exclusively those with the highest per pupil spending. (Oh, and I might add, those high achieving states also have the highest percentages of unionized teachers.) Those high-spending and high-achieving states spend almost twice what CA does on a per pupil basis.

    There are, as always, confounding factors. The high achieving states also have a lower percentage of students as 2nd language speakers. (That being said all other states have a lower percentage and number of those students.) Those states tend to have lower percentages of students living in poverty and generally higher levels of available social services. CA doesn’t just shortchange its students in school funding, it is very eclectic in the ways it neglects its children.

    It’s not unfair to suggest LCFF has allowed CA to be much more equitable in the way it underfunds its students.

    That LCFF has not solved all of the problems plaguing CA’s school funding in its first year should come as little surprise. Of course, you cannot write what purports to be “learned papers” based on that premise.

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      The topic under consideration here is whether LCFF is inequitable. That California underfunds public education in general says nothing about the LCFF law in its relative application. One question that needs to be definitively answered is whether every target student needs to get a portion of the SC funding and if so how much? Or is it OK to count the total number of target students for the purposes of state funding and then … Read More

      The topic under consideration here is whether LCFF is inequitable. That California underfunds public education in general says nothing about the LCFF law in its relative application.

      One question that needs to be definitively answered is whether every target student needs to get a portion of the SC funding and if so how much? Or is it OK to count the total number of target students for the purposes of state funding and then distribute that funding as districts wish with more or less regard for the needs of each and every target student.

    • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

      Gary, there's no question that total funding is woeful. But when it is all said and done, there's not much that can be done about that short of changing the mind of the Legislature and the electorate. In the meantime, we have to make sure that the chairs on that deck are distributed according to what was agreed. That's not happening. Should we stop demanding that they must be distributed as the current Ed Code defines … Read More

      Gary, there’s no question that total funding is woeful.

      But when it is all said and done, there’s not much that can be done about that short of changing the mind of the Legislature and the electorate.

      In the meantime, we have to make sure that the chairs on that deck are distributed according to what was agreed.

      That’s not happening. Should we stop demanding that they must be distributed as the current Ed Code defines it simply because the number of chairs is not big enough?

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Manuel, below is what the Ed Code says in regard to your comment "what the Ed Code defines". It doesn't require services to ALL undups, though funding is allocated on the basis of ALL undups. It just says it has to go to unduplicated pupils. And the regs. ( which I posted in another comment), referenced at the bottom of the excerpt below, don't require that districts provide service for every undup any more than … Read More

        Manuel, below is what the Ed Code says in regard to your comment “what the Ed Code defines”. It doesn’t require services to ALL undups, though funding is allocated on the basis of ALL undups. It just says it has to go to unduplicated pupils. And the regs. ( which I posted in another comment), referenced at the bottom of the excerpt below, don’t require that districts provide service for every undup any more than Title One requires that services go to all T1 qualified students. In fact LCFF law states that it cannot be any more restrictive than T1. That’s why Deasy could use the SC money for police. He wasn’t violating LCFF per se in so doing as long as he had some flimsy rationale in his LCAP – what some folks, believe it or not, think is an accountability document.

        42238.07. (a) On or before January 31, 2014, the state board shall
        adopt regulations that govern the expenditure of funds apportioned on
        the basis of the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils
        pursuant to Sections 2574, 2575, 42238.02, and 42238.03. The
        regulations shall include, but are not limited to, provisions that do
        all of the following:
        (1) Require a school district, county office of education, or
        charter school to increase or improve services for unduplicated
        pupils in proportion to the increase in funds apportioned on the
        basis of the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils in the
        school district, county office of education, or charter school.
        (2) Authorize a school district, county office of education, or
        charter school to use funds apportioned on the basis of the number of
        unduplicated pupils for schoolwide purposes, or, for school
        districts, districtwide purposes, for county offices of education,
        countywide purposes, or for charter schools, charterwide purposes, in
        a manner that is no more restrictive than the restrictions provided
        for in Title I of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (20
        U.S.C. Sec. 6301, et seq.).
        (b) The state board may adopt emergency regulations for purposes
        of this section.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        Manuel: Two things here: 1) what has been "agreed upon," in terms of LCFF and the LCAPs is pretty "vague" right now with various interests pulling from opposite ends. 2) I am concerned that to the extent the argument is all about who gets how many deck chairs, however fair and equitable the discussion may be, loses sight of the fact that the deck is sinking rapidly below their feet. I just read an CA Budget Project report … Read More

        Manuel:

        Two things here:

        1) what has been “agreed upon,” in terms of LCFF and the LCAPs is pretty “vague” right now with various interests pulling from opposite ends.

        2) I am concerned that to the extent the argument is all about who gets how many deck chairs, however fair and equitable the discussion may be, loses sight of the fact that the deck is sinking rapidly below their feet. I just read an CA Budget Project report today that asserts, due to Prop 30, school spending has increased and closed the gap with the national average for per pupil spending to around $1K. Prop 30 only has another year or so to go. Then the cold waters start washing around the feet of teachers, kids, and schools again. The argument of fairness in spending is valid, but it should not distract attention from the key issue that the state is guilty of abysmal levels of funding for schools, the social welfare and support system, and child poverty in general. Every discussion of education in CA needs to begin and end with those facts clearly stated to keep the discussion relevant and grounded.

        • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

          Gary, no question that what is in the Ed Code and SBoE regulations is pretty flimsy. But the public, the media, and the public interest law outfits think that the more liberal interpretation it is the law of the land. That's what I am referring to. Sure, the amount of funding available is not increasing to what it should be, especially when it is noted that Prop 30 did not bring any extra money. The fact … Read More

          Gary, no question that what is in the Ed Code and SBoE regulations is pretty flimsy. But the public, the media, and the public interest law outfits think that the more liberal interpretation it is the law of the land. That’s what I am referring to.

          Sure, the amount of funding available is not increasing to what it should be, especially when it is noted that Prop 30 did not bring any extra money. The fact that the overall state revenues have increased is what makes it look as if there is extra money. This isn’t due to Prop 30 because Prop 30 only “guarantees” that what goes to education won’t be raided to pay for another program as it was done in the recent past. That’s why it is called “Education Protection Account.”

          Anyway, what you are advocating is charging up the hill. I, instead, limit myself to annoying them by pointing out that they are not even passing the chairs to the right kids. Death by a thousand cuts, if you will. Obviously, I don’t subscribe to the idea that every time this is mentioned I should follow it with a “btw, the total funding is dismal and we are 50th in the nation.” If I were to do that, pretty soon people would avoid talking to me and would cross the street when they see me coming.

          Just sayin’… 😉

          Say, did you see that article about Deasy making nearly $440k last year? Talk about getting well paid for throwing the chairs over the railing… (Just google “Deasy $440000” and you’ll see a boatload of links)

  2. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    "Proponents of the formula, including Brown and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who co-wrote the concept paper behind the formula, insisted that calculations be done at the district level, where state funding had always flowed, Chu said." This seems a plausible reason, but it hides a major issue: if the state had told the districts that the money had to go to those schools, then the state would have had to set a mechanism … Read More

    “Proponents of the formula, including Brown and State Board of Education President Michael Kirst, who co-wrote the concept paper behind the formula, insisted that calculations be done at the district level, where state funding had always flowed, Chu said.”

    This seems a plausible reason, but it hides a major issue: if the state had told the districts that the money had to go to those schools, then the state would have had to set a mechanism to ensure that this restriction was respected.

    That fact that the LAO found that none of the 50 LCAPs it scrutinized had no “adequate safeguards” tells you that districts are conducting business as usual: “get out of my kitchen, let me do my own thing” (in Doug’s immortal words) when it comes to how to spend, excuse me, allocate those funds. Why is LAUSD, for example, spending more than half of its 2014-15 Supplemental and Concentration grants to pay for nearly half of its Special Education costs? Sure, 70% of the SWDs are “unduplicated,” but what about the other 380,000+ unduplicated students who are not SWDs?

    Yes, education spending is really a zero-sum game because the pot of money is finite, but by now it seems that all has changed is the language, not the actual spending patterns. As then Superintendent Deasy put it: “the District has to protect its investments” (and proceeded to use S&C funds to pay for roughly 25% of his Praetorian Guard, excuse me, LAUSD’s police department).

    Replies

    • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

      A problem with the LCFF law, as I have been saying for some time now, is that the state calculation is based upon the a specific count of SC targets students in any district while the funding generated by that count is only spent at the district level on certain target students. That is because districts replicate the Title One system to prevent spreading their compensatory programs thinly asT1's focus is on concentrations of … Read More

      A problem with the LCFF law, as I have been saying for some time now, is that the state calculation is based upon the a specific count of SC targets students in any district while the funding generated by that count is only spent at the district level on certain target students. That is because districts replicate the Title One system to prevent spreading their compensatory programs thinly asT1’s focus is on concentrations of underserved students, not all underserved. So T1 eligible students at schools below the district-set threshold for qualification where the schoolwide (as opposed to targeted improvement) option is employed receive zero funding as with the LCFF system. Any system in which a threshold, in this case 55%, is set, is going have a built in inequity because large cohorts of SC qualified students receive no benefit because they are below the qualification line. If the idea is to deliver funding in meaningful amounts to EVERY SC target student ( unduplicated count) the state would have to make SC funding portable and allocate SC grants solely on the basis of school count not district count as opposed to a system that ignores a large segment of target students and to concentrate funding at a few schools. SFUSD is a perfect example of this phenomenon. The districts pours SC funding into certain schools with high SC concentrations and leaves other schools without any funding, yet more unduplicated students attend the unfunded schools. This is part of its policy to raise the achievement numbers at a few historically underperforming schools at the expense of most underperforming students. That is not equity.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Put another way, LCFF is modeled after a weighted student formula yet it fails to achieve that model because there's no requirement for every qualified target student to receive a per pupil allocation. The system was designed that way to give the district the leeway to decide how money flows. Moreover, the lack of transparency of that flow coupled with the fungibility of money allows district leaders to use those funds as they wish … Read More

        Put another way, LCFF is modeled after a weighted student formula yet it fails to achieve that model because there’s no requirement for every qualified target student to receive a per pupil allocation. The system was designed that way to give the district the leeway to decide how money flows. Moreover, the lack of transparency of that flow coupled with the fungibility of money allows district leaders to use those funds as they wish as long as they make some sort of vague case for it in wording of the LCAP. As such, the idea that LCFF has financial accountability is laughable. Scouts honor.

        • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

          Below are the emergency regulations for determining if a district has met its obligation to unduplicated students. Read the instructions in the enumerated sections and then ask yourself if your district complies. I'd be hard pressed to know. § 15496. Requirements for LEAs to Demonstrate Increased or Improved Services for Unduplicated Pupils in Proportion to the Increase in Funds Apportioned for Supplemental and Concentration Grants. (a) An LEA shall provide evidence in its LCAP to … Read More

          Below are the emergency regulations for determining if a district has met its obligation to unduplicated students. Read the instructions in the enumerated sections and then ask yourself if your district complies. I’d be hard pressed to know.

          § 15496. Requirements for LEAs to Demonstrate Increased or Improved Services for Unduplicated Pupils in Proportion to the Increase in Funds Apportioned for Supplemental and Concentration Grants.
          (a) An LEA shall provide evidence in its LCAP to demonstrate how funding apportioned on the basis of the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils, pursuant to Education Code sections 2574, 2575, 42238.02, and 42238.03 is used to support such pupils. This funding shall be used to increase or improve services for unduplicated pupils as compared to the services provided to all pupils in proportion to the increase in funds apportioned on the basis of the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils as required by Education Code section 42238.07(a)(1). An LEA shall include in its LCAP an explanation of how expenditures of such funding meet the LEA’s goals for its unduplicated pupils in the state priority areas. An LEA shall determine the percentage by which services for unduplicated pupils must be increased or improved above services provided to all pupils in the fiscal year as follows:
          (1) Estimate the amount of the LCFF target attributed to the supplemental and concentration grants for the LEA calculated pursuant to Education Code sections 42238.02 and 2574 in the fiscal year for which the LCAP is adopted.
          (2) Estimate the amount of LCFF funds expended by the LEA on services for unduplicated pupils in the prior year that is in addition to what was expended on services provided for all pupils. The estimated amount of funds expended in 2013-14 shall be no less than the amount of Economic Impact Aid funds the LEA expended in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
          (3) Subtract subdivision (a)(2) from subdivision (a)(1).
          (4) Multiply the amount in subdivision (a)(3), by the most recent percentage calculated by the Department of Finance that represents how much of the statewide funding gap between current funding and full implementation of LCFF is eliminated in the fiscal year for which the LCAP is adopted.
          (5) Add subdivision (a)(4) to subdivision (a)(2).
          (6) Subtract subdivision (a)(5) from the LEA’s total amount of LCFF funding pursuant to Education Code sections 42238.02 and 2574, as implemented by Education Code sections 42238.03 and 2575 respectively, excluding add-ons for the Targeted Instructional Improvement Grant program and the Home to School Transportation program, in the fiscal year for which the LCAP is adopted.
          (7) Divide the amount in subdivision (a)(5) by the amount in subdivision (a)(6).
          (8) If the calculation in subdivision (a)(3) yields a number less than or equal to zero or when LCFF is fully implemented statewide, then an LEA shall determine its percentage for purposes of this section by dividing the amount of the LCFF target attributed to the supplemental and concentration grant for the LEA calculated pursuant to Education Code sections 42238.02 and 2574 in the fiscal year for which the LCAP is adopted by the remainder of the LEA’s LCFF funding, excluding add-ons for the Targeted Instructional Improvement Grant program and the Home to School Transportation program.

          • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

            Don: Here's a WestEd cheat sheet to the formula, which is complicated because the transition from the former financing system to full funding under LCFF has several variables, depending on how much districts received in categoricals for English learners and low-income kids before and how much they'll get when LCFF is 100 percent funded after seven or so years. The problem isn't the complexity of the formula -- it's that many districts don't include the … Read More

            Don: Here’s a WestEd cheat sheet to the formula, which is complicated because the transition from the former financing system to full funding under LCFF has several variables, depending on how much districts received in categoricals for English learners and low-income kids before and how much they’ll get when LCFF is 100 percent funded after seven or so years. The problem isn’t the complexity of the formula — it’s that many districts don’t include the step-by-step explanation in their LCAP; as a result, parents and community members are left to take disticts’ word that the figures are accurate.
            And then, the formula doesn’t dictate how much districts have to spend on low-income kids , foster kids and English learners per se. It determines but how much they have to improve and increase services for those kids based on the extra money they get for them. There’s clearly a relationship, but not necessarily a dollar for dollar correlation. Some districts were much more transparent than others on how they spent supplemental and concentration dollars. We’ll see in the second year LCAPs, now that the regulations are final and clearer, whether districts provide more details and whether county offices of education make approval contingent on it.

            • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

              If you have a child who qualifies under Free and Reduced, ELL or foster, is it reasonable to conclude s/he will receive some portion of the SC funding generated by the qualification?

    • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

      I've been a long time advocate of basing concentration funding on schools and not districts. This issue was discussed quite often in this forum before LCFF became law. Unfortunately the voices for such a policy lost out to the voices advocating for district based concentration funding. There is some sense to the district based funding because schools have benefited from being in the districts with more balanced income distributions. For example, … Read More

      I’ve been a long time advocate of basing concentration funding on schools and not districts. This issue was discussed quite often in this forum before LCFF became law. Unfortunately the voices for such a policy lost out to the voices advocating for district based concentration funding. There is some sense to the district based funding because schools have benefited from being in the districts with more balanced income distributions. For example, my school district in the past has restricted enrollment of our title 1 schools to students that begin the year in the school. All new students went to other schools. Not sure that practice is still in place.

      The spirit of LCFF has always been to promote more local involvement in school districts. This will be a painful process. As Manuel points out in some cases it’s going to take some time to make things operate sensibly. Perhaps that process will create some additional benefits. At least that is the hope.

  3. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    There’s always the option to change district boundaries or start charter schools if districts won’t manage funding as intended.

  4. Chris Reed 2 years ago2 years ago

    Mind-boggling that this story accepts the premise that LCFF funds are actually reaching high-needs students. Instead, in district after district, they’re being diverted to teacher compensation.

    The Legislative Analyst’s Office in a January report said not one of the 50 school districts it surveyed had adequate safeguards on LCFF dollars. Here’s a PDF of the report.

    http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/edu/LCAP/2014-15-LCAP-012015.pdf

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

      What is more accurate to say, Chris, is that it is proving mind-boggling how difficult it can be in many LCAPs to determine whether supplemental and concentration money is reaching high-need students. Better requirements on tracking expenditures, including clearly designating how concentration and supplemental dollars are being spent, should and will be a focus of the Legislature.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        And yet Governor Brown steadfastly rejects the idea of greater spending clarity in the LCAP. This forces local watchdogs to either audit and deconstruct district budgets or do the same for school budgets, including the additional burden of building a comparative analysis, before they can create a picture of how site funding is allocated. And even if we had a good picture of expenditures we still don't know who's succeeding with the added resources. Chris, I … Read More

        And yet Governor Brown steadfastly rejects the idea of greater spending clarity in the LCAP. This forces local watchdogs to either audit and deconstruct district budgets or do the same for school budgets, including the additional burden of building a comparative analysis, before they can create a picture of how site funding is allocated. And even if we had a good picture of expenditures we still don’t know who’s succeeding with the added resources.

        Chris, I would clarify your point about teachers get the lion’s share of additional funding to discriminate between higher compensation vs. additional staff and further point out that better compensation is not wasted money, though lower class sizes are essential.

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      There are at least two "mind-boggling" things going on here: 1) that teacher compensation is not recognized as "going to kids" (where do you want it to go--desks?); and, 2) that LCFF has become yet another way to divert attention from the real issues of the disgraceful amount of money that does NOT go to all students in the state. LCFF, at it's most ideal, is just a more equitable way to severely underfund schools … Read More

      There are at least two “mind-boggling” things going on here: 1) that teacher compensation is not recognized as “going to kids” (where do you want it to go–desks?); and, 2) that LCFF has become yet another way to divert attention from the real issues of the disgraceful amount of money that does NOT go to all students in the state. LCFF, at it’s most ideal, is just a more equitable way to severely underfund schools in the state of CA compared to forty plus states that do a better job.

      • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary,

        I think many parents would like to see extra money going to fund more teachers and more capable teachers. But spending more on more teachers and more professional training can conflict with paying teachers higher salaries. So perhaps we’re not all thinking about the same thing when we talk about money going to teachers. What do you think?

      • Eric Premack 2 years ago2 years ago

        I'll savor a rare moment of concurrence with Ravani on his points and add a third mind-boggler: For the overwhelming majority of schools, the "increased" funding for hi-need students is hardly an increase. We're a long ways from restoring the deep cuts of the past several years, especially in the context of spiraling costs for mandated retirement contributions, health benefit costs, etc. Realists would also question whether the concentration feature to the … Read More

        I’ll savor a rare moment of concurrence with Ravani on his points and add a third mind-boggler: For the overwhelming majority of schools, the “increased” funding for hi-need students is hardly an increase. We’re a long ways from restoring the deep cuts of the past several years, especially in the context of spiraling costs for mandated retirement contributions, health benefit costs, etc.

        Realists would also question whether the concentration feature to the funding formula was really designed to meet needs versus generate legislative support from blocks of legislators who represent the districts who benefit from the concentration funding. The research base supporting the notion that per-student costs increase with district-wide concentration is thin to nonexistent. Many with experience developing school- and district-level budgets know that the per-student costs of serving English learners and low-income students can decrease as their connection increases due to economies of scale and the ability to implement programs school-wide.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Eric: Your comments about funding are accurate to a point. Even when school funding is returned to "pre-cut" days CA's school funding will still remain in the bottom decile of the 50 states. A shameful situation for any of the wealthier industrialized states, and even more so for the wealthiest of all states. There is, in fact, solid research on the need for increased funding for disadvantaged (aka, concentration) students in a number of areas, most particularly, … Read More

          Eric:

          Your comments about funding are accurate to a point. Even when school funding is returned to “pre-cut” days CA’s school funding will still remain in the bottom decile of the 50 states. A shameful situation for any of the wealthier industrialized states, and even more so for the wealthiest of all states.

          There is, in fact, solid research on the need for increased funding for disadvantaged (aka, concentration) students in a number of areas, most particularly, significantly reduced class sizes.

          Here, of course, you get to the conundrum of balancing increased spending on “teachers.” It is clear that districts with problems creating a competitive pay schedule have problems with high turnover which undermines the kind of staff cohesiveness necessary to create a positive learning environment. Then there is the need to create low class sizes for the above mentioned positive effects on learning for disadvantaged students. Then there is the need for support staff, e.g., nurses, counselors, psychologists, social workers, librarians, etc., where CA trails the rest of the nation. These are all competing demands.

          All of these considerations need to be taken into account in negotiations at the district level and all are negatively impacted by CA’s long time underfunding of the schools. There is no perfect balance in doing this as there is little perfection in any aspect of real life.

          Your mentioning retirement and health benefits are, obviously, dog-whistles to conservatives and neo-liberals to distract from the reality of CA’s funding situation and the divisiveness created by numbers of self-interested parties including the charter-school-private-sector-management-industry attempting to harvest scarce education dollars. Your phrasing “costs of serving English learners and low-income students can decrease as their connection increases due to economies of scale and the ability to implement programs school-wide” was great business-speak, and makes as much sense in an educational context as it usually does, which is: not much.

          Good try, though.

          You mention of the political tradeoffs likely necessary to get LCFF passed in the legislature. Well, yea, but that does sound like restating the obvious.

          So, aside from the obvious caveats related to real education and the unnecessary bird-walks to connect with the usual suspects contained in your comment, I guess we did have a “rare moment of concurrence.” Sort of.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            A person with one eye can still see both sides of a ledger. So when Ravani regularly claims California is the wealthiest state in the Union, refusing to acknowledge its indebtedness, it's a window into the immoderate mind. No, there ought not to be talk of the costs of retirement or health benefits (restating the obvious). We don't want the spotlight there! Obviously! The immoderate mind won't have business talk of … Read More

            A person with one eye can still see both sides of a ledger. So when Ravani regularly claims California is the wealthiest state in the Union, refusing to acknowledge its indebtedness, it’s a window into the immoderate mind. No, there ought not to be talk of the costs of retirement or health benefits (restating the obvious). We don’t want the spotlight there! Obviously! The immoderate mind won’t have business talk of economies of scale which is obviously that of corporate reformers up to no good. Obviously, again! No matter that such economies of scale free up money to create more jobs, not less and offer more pay, not less. Yes, we should leave all discussion about economics at the collective bargaining table because we need to control the message. And the message is that all teachers are good, experience is the only factor in instructional quality, poverty is the cause of poor performance and the only answer to what type of standardized testing is none of the above. Put your dog whistles away and take out your gags. Obviously!

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              Pensions were meant to provide security in retirement, not opulence. I think we should put a cap on pensions statewide of $100k a year. We have many on 150k and 200k and higher pensions, some who dishonestly spiked their salary in the last year such as many in SFPD. Enough is enough. Cap it at 100k, that's plenty to live well especially when you don't have to go to work every … Read More

              Pensions were meant to provide security in retirement, not opulence. I think we should put a cap on pensions statewide of $100k a year. We have many on 150k and 200k and higher pensions, some who dishonestly spiked their salary in the last year such as many in SFPD. Enough is enough. Cap it at 100k, that’s plenty to live well especially when you don’t have to go to work every day and can be a bargain shopper. Many elderly are getting by on 15-20k. I would even favor a cap of 90k. If you want more, pay off your house while you are working or fund an IRA. Our schools suffer because we spend tons on pensions and welfare and prisons. For crying out loud, if there’s no victim, don’t put someone in prison. I don’t need to be protected from Heidi Fleiss or Robert Downey Junior. My kids need an education. San Francisco is really treated unfairly in all this as we bring in lots of tax but spend the state minimum and so much gets wasted on pet projects. They put nothing from the general fund into K-12 Education even though San Jose, San Diego and many other cities do. The minimum level is just that, minimum, counties can supplement and choose not to due to bizarre priorities.

        • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

          Paul: Yes, as I explained in another response, there are competing demands. Having a competitive salary schedule is a positive for a district in hiring and keeping teachers. Having a lower class size is an instructional positive particularly for disadvantaged students. The nature of collective bargaining, when both the union and management see these as equally valuable objectives (and very often they do), that creates some real soul searching and professionally-psychic pain around the table. You have good … Read More

          Paul:

          Yes, as I explained in another response, there are competing demands. Having a competitive salary schedule is a positive for a district in hiring and keeping teachers. Having a lower class size is an instructional positive particularly for disadvantaged students.

          The nature of collective bargaining, when both the union and management see these as equally valuable objectives (and very often they do), that creates some real soul searching and professionally-psychic pain around the table.

          You have good people on both sides constrained by CA’s almost uniquely abysmal funding for a state outside the deep South. CA’s teachers have, of course, suffered though 7 years of frozen or even declining salaries (furloughs) and have quite a bit of make-up to do. to become “whole.” This can create a peculiar circumstance when there is more conflict between unions and management as resources improve (however slightly), and there is more to argue about. Unions tend to give up more during times of cut-backs because they are professionals and want to preserve program as much as possible. Management, during times of increasing resources, tend to forget that because they are in the management mind-set and because, by the nature of school organization, they have more political vulnerability. Management often sees a need to maintain a “tough” posture and public face.

    • Skeptic 2 years ago2 years ago

      What's puzzling is that the LAO didn't study a single charter LCAP. Maybe the LAO assumed that sending the supplemental funds directly to a school (as is the case for charters) is in itself a guarantee that every supplemental dollar is spent on the targeted students? Is it really the case when charters routinely send 15% of all of their revenues to their CMO? When some charters send upwards of 20% of all revenues … Read More

      What’s puzzling is that the LAO didn’t study a single charter LCAP. Maybe the LAO assumed that sending the supplemental funds directly to a school (as is the case for charters) is in itself a guarantee that every supplemental dollar is spent on the targeted students? Is it really the case when charters routinely send 15% of all of their revenues to their CMO? When some charters send upwards of 20% of all revenues to the entity managing their facilities?

      • Michael F. Madden 2 years ago2 years ago

        My comment was in response to Paul Muench responding to Gary referencing what many parents would like to see. Well guys I am a parent and this is what I see. I see to much wasted ink, time, resources, money, and attention paid to the bureaucracy of it all. Meanwhile, proven in court or not, there was a purposed focus made on socioeconomically disadvantaged minority kids with the elementary school closures two … Read More

        My comment was in response to Paul Muench responding to Gary referencing what many parents would like to see. Well guys I am a parent and this is what I see. I see to much wasted ink, time, resources, money, and attention paid to the bureaucracy of it all. Meanwhile, proven in court or not, there was a purposed focus made on socioeconomically disadvantaged minority kids with the elementary school closures two years ago. Fact, the learning curve is steeper for these kids due to their station in life. Fact, we re-opened one, now they are talking another, there must be reincarnation, because these poor youthful souls keep getting the deck stacked deeper against them ever learning anything. Oh yeah, then there is the Serna Center. I mean people gotta fill those offices and those are six figure offices. Here are the factors that need to be used in such an equation as being discussed here. I am one of the 6 people that the district fought tooth & nail not to have us open this school. A retired district trained interim principal just made an honest attempt to dismantle what we have envisioned with district policy discipline (parents don’t matter). I where many hats there but am not paid. Teachers with 25 pupil classes became comfortable with that policy. Bottom-line,parents are statutorily obligated to have their children in school. Everyone else collects a check at the school. Yet schools have been selecting who they want to teach through their programs of discipline. Nobody in the schools want to hear what the parents think. And it isn’t about money because every moment of child’s life is instructional, but I ask you how much structural attention is paid to recess? Because no one can be assured if the classroom instruction is being reinforced at home, but on our playgrounds our future is learning how to interact with itself; how is society looking to you guys? If you want the child to respond to you then be sincere & have an actual relationship with them, & this doesn’t cost us anything. Thanks