LCUSD Examines Funding Changes
By Kevork KURDOGHLIAN
The 2013-14 California state budget, which was recently passed by the legislature and currently awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, is set to take the state’s K-12 school districts in a new financial direction.
La Cañada Unified School District is one of many community districts heavily impacted by the shift to Brown’s new funding model known as Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which is planned to be fully implemented in seven years.
According to the California Dept. of Education, “The Governor’s Budget proposes to replace the current K–12 finance system with a new LCFF. For school districts and charter schools, the proposal creates base, supplemental and concentration grants in place of most existing K–12 funding streams, including revenue limits and most state categorical programs.”
The new funding model has been LCUSD board president Scott Tracy’s central topic during his monthly president’s reports going back 10 board meetings.
This frequency is due to, he said on March 26, its importance for the total financial impact to LCUSD.
LCFF would eliminate the current “least optimistic” budget model, which maintains deficits and COLAs, called the Revenue Limit Funding model. This model would be obsolete under LCFF.
“Funding may or may not increase based on the funded COLA and that’s an issue,” said LCUSD Chief Budget Officer Stephen Hodgson.
At the April 16 school board meeting, Tracy added that the new model would lead to a “very serious shortfall” of nearly four million dollars.
“We’re down almost $1,100 per student. Multiply that by 4,000 students and you can see how many millions of dollars is being redistributed away from us.”
LCUSD has taken multiple steps to protect current funding levels including an effort to get the community to call state Senator Carol Liu, preparing for a likely March 2014 election to increase the parcel tax rate and joining the California School Finance Reform Coalition.
“[The Coalition] supports this concept of recognizing the additional needs of low income students and English language learners but those investments cannot come at the expense of [not] restoring the base funding for the cuts that school districts have experienced over the past five years,” Tracy said.
Another step was to pass a resolution that expressed a dislike of the new funding model. The resolution, which unanimously passed on May 7, articulated the “desire to reprioritize both the level of base funding and the timing of these allocations necessary to get [LCUSD] to a point where we are at least equal to the national average.”
On June 18, the school board unanimously passed the 2013-14 LCUSD budget as submitted using the Revenue Limit Funding model. If Gov. Brown signs the state budget, all California school districts will have 45 days afterward to revise their budgets under the new Local Control Funding Formula.
Next week read how the state budget will impact GUSD.