State’s new funding formula designed to direct additional dollars to students in need

California’s budget for 2013-14 has brought major changes to the way school funding is allocated, with the goal of channeling greater resources to the students who need them most.

At this week’s Board of Education meeting, Alan Schlichting, IUSD’s director of student support services, offered an overview of the state’s new Local Control Funding Formula and what it means for Irvine.

Here were some of the key takeaways:

The Local Control Funding Formula, or LCFF, starts with a base funding level that is the same for all districts, though the amount allocated per-student is differentiated slightly by grade level. Next comes a layer of supplemental funding in the form of an additional 20 percent of the base for each English-language learner, low-income student and foster youth.

There is a third pot of funding called a concentration grant, and that’s equal to 50 percent of the base, but only for schools and districts where English-learners, low-income students and foster youth exceed 55 percent of the total enrollment. (IUSD doesn’t qualify for the latter grant.)

Schlichting said the LCFF model has replaced the Revenue Limit formula that’s been in place for nearly 40 years, as well as about three-quarters of the state’s categorical programs, which are smaller pots of money designated for specific purposes. Under the new system, he said, school leaders — along with parents and other local stakeholders — will have greater flexibility to determine how best to use available dollars to further local priorities that improve student outcomes.

Still, the LCFF won’t be fully funded until 2020-21. Until then, school districts are expected to receive about the amount of funding they were eligible for in 2012-13, plus an additional amount each year to gradually close the gap. (To put that in perspective, the 2012-13 funding levels were well short of what they were in 2007-08, before the state’s budget crisis hit.)

Greater accountability

California’s new funding model for education also includes additional accountability measures. Under LCFF, school districts and county offices of education must each develop, adopt and annually update a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with input from parents and other community stakeholders.

The initial plan, due July 1, will based on a template adopted by the State Board of Education. Districts will be required to identify annual goals, take action and measure progress for student subgroups across multiple performance indicators, including academic achievement, school climate, access to a broad curriculum and parent engagement.

Academic priorities must be tied to each district’s spending plan, so the school board will be expected to approve the accountability plan before adopting its annual budget, Schlichting said. County superintendents will be tasked with reviewing these plans to ensure alignment of projected spending, services and goals. And county offices of education will provide technical assistance if the plans are rejected. The state superintendent of public instruction may also intervene if a school district fails to show improvement across multiple subgroups in three out of four consecutive years.

The local impact

So what does this all mean for Irvine?

It means more funding will target students with the greatest needs, including English-Learners, foster youth and low-income students. It also means the state is looking at broader benchmarks of success. Instead of simply focusing on test scores, the LCFF requires schools to develop plans to boost student engagement, increase parent involvement and create more positive learning environments. Finally, school leaders and parents will have a greater say over spending to ensure academic programs and services meet the unique needs of local students.

“We will have additional resources for students, and especially for those students who have greater needs,” Schlichting said. “We will have the opportunity to collect information from our stakeholders and make local decisions on how we’re going to move forward. There will be increased accountability, where we look at many pieces of data to determine how well our district is doing. And there will be alignment between our budget and the LCAP plan that we put together.”

Expect to see more on the NewsFlash about this topic. In the meantime, you can review Schlichting’s slide presentation here. And for even more information on the Local Control Funding Formula and the Local Control and Accountability Plan, check out these resources: