Few Parents Know about Landmark Change to School Funding - NBC Bay Area
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Few Parents Know about Landmark Change to School Funding

Local Control Funding Formula Implemented in Bay Area Schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    One of the biggest changes to school funding in 40 years is underway but odds are, you've never heard of it. California's Local Control Funding Formula means more money and more decisions for local school districts. NBC Bay Area's Jessica Aguirre looks at how the money is put to use. (Published Monday, Sept. 28, 2015)

    The classroom is outdoors at Fremont High School in Oakland.
     
    "Today we’re making salsa," says student Miguel Salmeron. "We’re going to eat it with chips."

    Salmeron and his friends are in the school garden today with the Latino Men and Boys Program.
     
    "It’s like a small circle where everybody is pretty much like 'in trust,'" says Salmeron. "It’s like a family circle pretty much."
     
    It's a circle that's about to get bigger, thanks to extra dollars flowing in from the state.

    "We get targeted funding from the state in order to support our most needy students," says Oakland Superintendent Antwan Wilson.

    For the first time, Oakland Unified is investing newly available money - $200,000 - in the Latino Men and Boys Program, which is run by The Unity Council in Oakland.

    At a press conference, Superintendent Wilson says, "That’s the most important piece, that those young men, that they graduate from high school."

    The money comes from the Local Control Funding Formula, a landmark law now being put into practice across California.

    "This is an historic change," says Public Advocates senior staff attorney Angelica Jongco. "This is the biggest change to our school funding system in the last 40 years."
     
    Under LCFF many funding decisions shift from Sacramento to local school districts.

    "California is leading the country in terms of having a formula that provides more support for the students with the greatest need," says Jongco.

    Districts with high-needs kids get more money. The extra dollars are for English learners, foster youth and low-income students.

    Governor Jerry Brown talked about the funding formula in his 2013 State of the State address, saying, "This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.”

    At Oakland Unified, where 80% of students are high needs, funding incrementally increases from $7,502 to $11,810 per student over the next five years.

    However in more affluent San Ramon Valley Unified, where just 8% of kids are high needs, funding in 2021 tops out at $9,111, according to EdSource.
     
    "My biggest concern is that more people don’t know about it," says Education Trust - West executive director Ryan J. Smith.

    He's right. Most voters have never heard of the funding law even though, for the first time, it requires community input on how the money is spent.

    "In order to get this right, because it’s more flexibility in how funds are spent at the local level, people have to get involved and hold districts accountable," says Smith.                        
     
    At Fremont High School in Oakland, the students say they're happy to see their program expand.

    "I think it’s good that it’s finally getting the recognition that it needs because it’s a good program," says Salmeron.
     
    If you want to see how much money is allocated to your school district, check out the online calculator at EdSource.org.

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