Paying For Schools

Schools are essential and the need to educate our children is not negotiable. The 2020-21 budget package maintained school funding based on 2019-20 attendance levels, which essentially placed a funding cap on all schools, even those experiencing high levels of growth.

Prior to enactment of this year’s education trailer bill (SB 98), school districts were “held harmless” over declining year-to-year enrollment. If the district lost students, it would still be funded at last year’s level. If the school added students, it would receive more money. But under SB 98, a growing school does not generate more money. If the school has 10% or even 100% more kids, it receives funding based on the same number of students it served last year

Each student typically generates an average of $10,300 through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). A recent analysis projects LCFF costs that are more than $500 million lower than the amount budgeted in 2020-21 due to this change in attendance funding. Let me be clear this money for schools was included in the budget, but unless the law is changed, growing schools will not receive it. These restrictions fall on charter schools as well as traditional schools in areas experiencing rapid growth, such as southwest Riverside and north inland San Diego Counties in my District. Conversely, areas not experiencing much growth, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, may see little impact.

That’s why I joined many of my Assembly colleagues in a letter to Governor Newsom asking that this funding formula be revised. In his budget-signing message, the Governor indicated that he recognized problems with this formula and that changes would be necessary.

The money for schools was included in the budget. It’s imperative that we change the law to ensure funding for all our growing schools.