Friday, December 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

School funding plans go awry

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | February 20, 2014 |

Gov. Jerry Brown and a lot of public school officials are just now rediscovering how right the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns was when he observed that “The best laid plans of mice and men oft’ go astray.”

The latest example in California is the new public school funding formula Brown aggressively pushed last year, one giving a greater portion of new money raised via the 2012 Proposition 30 tax increases to schools with the highest percentages of English learners, foster children and pupils from poverty-ridden homes.

Essentially, Brown wants to finish the job begun in 1971 by the Serrano v. Priest decision of the state Supreme Court, which directs most funds from newly approved property tax levies to the poorest districts.

“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice,” Brown said as he proposed giving districts with high concentrations of needy children as much as $5,000 per year more than wealthier districts for each such student they have. The grants would start lower and escalate over several years, the money added to the state’s base grant of $6,800 per year per child.

Officials of many better-heeled districts protested, suggesting the Brown proposal left out students from poverty-level homes who attend their schools. They provided numbers showing that districts in some generally well-to-do areas educate many disadvantaged students, even if their numbers don’t come up to the levels required to get the extra state money.

Those districts pushed for giving schools money based on the actual number of disadvantaged students they serve, rather than creating a threshold percentage schools must pass before getting extra money.

Their objections resulted in some change in the plan, with the extra money now being passed to districts on the basis of numbers at individual schools, rather than districtwide enrollments, an alteration made by the Legislature in June.

“Our disadvantaged students deserve more resources to overcome the extra obstacles they face, and this formula does just that,” said state Senate President Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, after the changes were approved. Known as the local control funding formula, the new rules also give districts more control over how they spend state money they receive.

That’s the plan. But it’s not working out quite as Brown and the school administrators hoped, the same phenomenon Robbie Burns sagely noted more than 200 years ago.

Yes, districts are getting extra money for low-income pupils, English learners and foster children. The initial boost comes to about $2,800 per student.

But many districts are not getting all the money they expected because hundreds, perhaps thousands of families still have not turned in verification forms attesting to their income. So far, the state isn’t handing over money for students whose forms are not yet in, reasoning that without the forms, it can’t be sure the students actually exist or are really needy.

Districts, meanwhile, complain that they already verify students’ family income every four years to get federal funds for subsidized lunches, while the state demands new forms and will want them every year. Doing it again costs them time and money, they gripe.

For some of California’s largest districts, this paperwork problem amounts to tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. The Los Angeles Unified district, for example, had only about 40 percent of the required forms returned as of mid-December, with about $200 million at stake in the missing paperwork. In Fresno, hundreds of families were refusing to fill out forms, possibly worried about immigration problems.

In San Diego, only a small fraction of affected schools had turned in the forms by the same time.

If this problem continues and the state is left with an undistributed pot of cash, it should be divided among all schools on the basis of their federal lunch-money reports. Do that and poor kids who go to school with the children of the wealthy will benefit far more than they can under the current formula.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Exchange students bring the world to Davis

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Pastor has many plans for CA House

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Transit survey: 47 percent ride bikes to UCD campus

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Goats help recycle Christmas trees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Playing Santa

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Special holiday gifts

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A3

Woodland-Davis commute bus service expands

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Learn fruit tree tips at free class

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Bike Club hears about British cycling tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Pick up a Davis map at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Explorit: Get a rise out of science

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4

NAMI meeting offers family support

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Yoga, chanting intro offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

.

Forum

Blamed for her sister’s rage

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
How much for the calling birds?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Steve Sack cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Many ensured a successful parade

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Thanks for putting food on the table

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
.

Sports

 
Two more for the road for 9-1 Aggie men

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Patterson is college football’s top coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Clippers get a win over Golden State

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

NBA roundup: Heat beat Cavs in LeBron’s return to Miami

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Unbroken': A bit underwhelming

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Folk musicians will jam on Jan. 2

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

.

Business

Passat: Roomy, affordable sedan with German engineering

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

James J. Dunning Jr.

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Floyd W. Fenocchio

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, December 26, 2014 (set 2)

By Creator | From Page: B7

 
Comics: Thursday, December 26, 2014 (set 1)

By Creator | From Page: A9