Q: What is the Local Control Funding Formula?
A: It’s an overhaul for funding California schools that gives school districts more flexibility on spending money they receive from the state. The plan, signed into law in 2013, gives more cash to districts with a high percentage of at-risk students, including those in foster care, still learning English or from low-income households. School districts will see an escalating amount of new money each year until 2021.
Q: Why was this new funding method implemented?
A: The intention is to give school districts with high-needs students more resources to close the achievement gap — and the flexibility to use the money in innovative ways. Prior to the Local Control Funding Formula, school districts were funded through a mixture of local dollars, general funds from the state and a slew of special “categorical” programs. The effect was much more state control over how dollars were spent, and little difference in the amount of money school districts received for each student. Lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown supported the overhaul as a way to give the neediest students a leg-up in the classroom.
Q: How much extra funding will my school district get?
A: School districts will now get state funds through three different streams: a base grant, which is provided on a per-student basis, a supplemental grant, which is provided based on the number of high-needs students a district has, and a concentration grant, which is extra money that’s only given to districts with a high percentage (55% or more) of at-risk students. A Local Control Funding Formula calculator from California’s Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team shows exactly how much your school district is getting this year.
Q: How are school districts spending the new money?
A: In a variety of ways: hiring more social workers and truancy officers, improving school libraries, lengthening the class day, adding after-school programs, updating school computers and other technology, adding literacy programs for young students and restoring programs cut during the recession.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: As part of the new law, school districts are required to reach out to parents, students and the community for input on how to spend the new money. Parent advisory groups and community organizations like Reading and Beyond, Californians for Justice, Stone Soup Fresno and the Youth Leadership Institute have all been actively involved in local budget planning. Many school districts are also surveying parents and communities for ideas. To learn more about getting involved, visit your school district’s website for more information about community meetings and other input opportunities.