Legislation to switch from attendance to enrollment-based funding becomes a two-year bill

Senate Bill 98 (Portantino, D-Burbank), which  would provide supplemental enrollment-based funding to California’s schools, became a two-year bill on July 11 and will remain under consideration in the Assembly Education Committee until next year. CSBA has an Oppose unless Amended position on SB 98. CSBA has long supported efforts to transition to an enrollment-based funding methodology for public education; however, as written, the bill does not meet CSBA’s standard that any effort to transition to an enrollment-based funding methodology for the Local Control Funding Formula:

  • Include an equivalent increase in funding through a rebenching of Proposition 98.
  • Be free of any mandate requirements.
  • Not be done at the expense of existing funding, programs or grants within Prop 98.

SB 98 would impose several new — and potentially unfunded — mandates on local educational agencies. As currently written, SB 98 would authorize LEAs to annually receive a supplemental funding allocation equal to the difference between their LCFF base grant and their enrollment. This difference, referred to as “average daily membership” would include a requirement that 30 percent of this supplemental funding be spent on addressing chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy to improve attendance. The bill would also require LEAs to maintain the same per-pupil spending level on staff who address chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy as was spent in the school year 2019-20 and  provide evidence of compliance with this maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement; an unnecessary and redundant impediment given that LEAs already report enrollment data to the California Department of Education twice yearly.

CSBA appreciates Sen. Portantino’s leadership on this issue as well as the stated intent to accompany the bill with a rebenching of Proposition 98 by an estimated $4 billion. However, there was no funding provided in the 2023–24 state budget for this purpose; nor was there a reference to or inclusion of language to rebench Proposition 98 by an equivalent amount. Without additional funding, SB 98 would impose an unfunded categorical mandate that would reduce LCFF funding for districts.

Finally, the $4 billion needed to fund this bill would benefit more schools if it were to be allocated through LCFF, which is fundamentally based in equity. For example, if an LEA has 97 percent average daily attendance, it will only receive an additional 3 percent of funding from this bill; whereas if the LCFF base was provided an additional 5 percent (the equivalent of the estimated $4 billion), that same district with 97 percent attendance could see a 5 percent base increase.

Now a two-year bill, SB 98 will remain in the Assembly Education Committee for the time being. CSBA will continue to monitor the measure and will also provide an update on major TK-12 proposals after the policy committee deadline later this week.