State education budget could limit local district control |

State education budget could limit local district control

Axie Navas

Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a revised budget May 14 that limits local flexibility funding while promising to boost per-pupil spending, according to Lake Tahoe Unified School District Chief Financial Officer Deb Yates.

Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, grants additional money to schools with 50 percent or more English-language learners and economically disadvantaged students, and promises that no school district or charter school will receive less money than it did in 2012-13. The boost amounts to about $1,500 more per pupil, according to the governor’s office.

The formula also alleges to provide local school districts more flexibility when it comes to spending government dollars and is designed to replace general funding of districts with a simpler system.

But according to Lake Tahoe Unified School District Chief Financial Officer Deb Yates, the proposal would do the opposite.

“The LCFF (despite earlier promises) now comes with volumes of new oversight regulations that will give the district very little local control or flexibility. I’m actually hoping that LCFF is not implemented and current funding models continue,” Yates wrote in an email. “I think the positive is mostly spin.”

Despite the increase in per-pupil funding, the flexibility funding would disappear, Yates said. A large share of the additional funds would be earmarked for supplemental and concentration grant requirements, while LTUSD would lose about half of the $1.2 million K-3 class size reduction funds.

The proposal was praised by California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as a step in the right direction earlier this month, but he did not mention how the new formula would affect individual school districts.

“As a teacher, it’s heartening to finally see new resources directed to California’s schools after so many years of painful cuts,” Torlakson said in a press release. “These funds will help California’s schools prepare children for the challenges of a constantly changing world, and graduate armed with the real-world skills they need to thrive in college and a career.”

For Yates, the flexible funding is more important than implementing the new formula.

“I honestly believe that LTUSD will fare better under the existing funding model for 2013-14 than LCFF … Before the governor creates new priorities, perhaps he should restore schools to the previous 2007-08 funding levels. Five million dollars would go a very long way to improving services and programs for all students,” Yates said.

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