Friday, August 8, 2014

California schools stumble into first year of new funding system

Recently, I wrote a piece for the Hechinger Report on California's transition to what is called the Local Control Funding Formula. That's a fancy name for a new system of school funding where extra money is given to students who are classified as having greater needs than others. In California, that's students in poverty, as determined by the number who receive free and reduced price lunches, foster children and English language learners.

The story describes how different districts mapped out their first year of plans for spending money under the new system, which gives local agencies greater flexibility in determining where they spend their money. These new plans are called Local Control and Accountability Plans. The first ones were due July 1, with approval required by county Offices of Education by Aug. 15.

But even as the counties are working furiously to finish their reviews, some issues are outstanding:

  • The state is considering revised rules for the system that could mean less freedom for schools in how they spend the money
  • The state has yet to approve rules for judging whether districts are following the system properly
  • California is also transitioning to new education instructional standards, a national set of guidelines called the Common Core State Standards. As a result, the state has placed state test scores -- a key measure of school success -- on hiatus.

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