by Andrea Ball, Legislative Advocate
Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) presented SB 69, her bill on school finance and a new funding formula, to the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, May 1. In presenting the bill, Sen. Liu noted it is a work in progress. It’s intended to move the discussion of a new education funding method forward by providing a venue and vehicle for policy discussion and debate. The bill was voted out of the Senate Education Committee, with the Republican committee members not voting. The bill will now progress to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
SB 69 builds upon and would amend the governor’s Local Control Funding Formula. A number of elements are expressed as intent—what the Legislature would like to see—and the senator accepted nine amendments that are described in the bill analysis available at www.leginfo.ca.gov. Like the governor’s proposal and consistent with CSBA’s platform, this proposal recognizes and provides additional resources to students with greater challenges: English-language learners, low-income students and foster youth.
In advocating for CSBA’s views before the Committee, I expressed CSBA’s appreciation and support for the bill’s clear commitment to restoring districts to the level of funding in 2007-08. This issue has been CSBA’s primary concern with the governor’s proposal and we have submitted recommendations on how to address this within the framework of the governor’s proposal. (See p. 12 of CSBA’s report “Realigning LCFF Priorities to Balance Base Restoration and Supplemental Investment.”) It is heartening that the Senate authors and supporters of SB 69 heard this concern and are attempting to address it.
The time is right for improving our funding system
CSBA has concerns about the proposal in SB 69 to delay implementation of the new formula for a year. If a new formula ensures restoration, districts and COEs advise us that they are well positioned to implement in FY 2013-14. With expected increases to Proposition 98, it now seems like the opportune time to move to a formula that provides clarity and greater transparency to school funding and addresses equity concerns by providing additional resources to students with greater challenges.
SB 69 would completely eliminate the concentration grants. CSBA’s report, “Realigning LCFF Priorities to Balance Base Restoration and Supplemental Investment” would retain the concentration grant funding level (dollar amount) but it would represent 31 percent of the base grant instead of the 35 percent.
Accountability moving to the forefront
Sen. Liu clearly noted that the accountability provisions of SB 69 need to be fleshed out. We agree and are ready to roll up our sleeves and engage in the hard work of shaping robust accountability without new bureaucracy. We expect to see revised accountability provisions as part of the governor’s May Revision. As conversations about accountability advance, CSBA will be in the lead on efforts that take into consideration the following:
1. Focus on outcomes. Rather than use categorical program inputs, let’s base accountability on measurable outcomes that are clearly articulated.
2. Ensure that local districts and COEs are part of the process of defining the goals and knowing for what they are accountable.
3. Learn from our past efforts:
- We’ve had evaluations of the District Assistance and Intervention Teams (DAITs) and the School Assistance and Intervention Teams (SAITs). Let’s use what we’ve learned and build on what works.
- Effective planning requires local buy-in, engagement and authenticity. The WestEd work on planning processes in effective districts provides some indicators of meaningful planning improvement efforts.
4. Governing boards are ready to be accountable. The AB 1200 process related to the fiscal health of districts has worked. The requirement of budget certification and the role of the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team approach provide a process with which boards and staff have experience. This may be model to build upon.
What board members can do
Board Member Action Day is May 10. This is the opportunity for CSBA members to meet with legislators in their district offices and tell their stories. Talk about your local efforts to engage communities in improving your schools. Legislators are balancing issues of local control and accountability with the state’s role in appropriating funding and providing a quality education to California’s 6 million public school students.
Show how your board and district continue serious efforts to ensure a high quality education to all students, in spite of the historic funding reductions over the last five years.