The Hart and Newhall school districts are calling on state lawmakers to tweak a school funding formula so their needy children aren’t placed at a disadvantage relative to needy children in larger and rural school districts.
The Hart and Newhall school districts are two of 35 school-district members of the California School Finance Reform Coalition, which is calling for the change.
Local school leaders say they support the concept of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula.
“It’s correct to say that English language learners and kids who live in poverty cost more to educate,” said Dr. Marc Winger, superintendent of the Newhall School District.
But coalition members say the money should follow the disadvantaged kids, rather than the biggest school districts (which historically wield more influence in Sacramento).
Brown’s funding formula funnels considerably more money for each needy child – those living in poverty, and English language learners – to large and rural school districts with high percentages of needy children – and less money, per needy child, for the estimated 1 million needy children who are scattered around the state in lower concentrations, as in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Coalition members want the governor and Legislature to increase the “base” funding for needy children, and then distribute any available remaining dollars to all districts based on their actual numbers of needy students.
The coalition sent the following letter Friday to Brown and all members of the Legislature:
If a compromise is not reached between the state’s leaders, needy students will be left with far fewer resources than their peers in other school districts around the state. The California School Finance Reform Coalition, school districts representing more than 450,000 students and working on behalf of all California kids, urge a compromise on a school funding plan that meets the needs of every student.
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) needs to be amended to increase the base grant for all school districts. As currently proposed, the LCFF:
1. Doesn’t fulfill the promise made to voters who passed Proposition 30 on the belief that all schools would see funding restored.
– Sixty-five percent (65%) of the school districts located within the 23 counties that voted Yes on Prop 30 will receive less money under the new formula than they would receive if the current school funding formula were fully restored.
2. Will treat one million students of equal need, unequally. A disadvantaged student in a school district that is not fully restored will miss out on an average of $1,300 per year of additional support and services, compared to an equally disadvantaged student in other districts.
Please don’t give up on one million of California’s kids! Increase the base grant to fully restore school funding. We urge the state’s leadership to use this opportunity to get education funding reform right today. Learn more at www.californiafairschoolfunding.org. Questions can be directed to any of the member districts, or to Coalition Facilitator Steve Ward at 559-327-9110.