The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) provides more equitable funding for all students, greater local flexibility and accountability for outcomes and promotes community engagement.
Over 6 million students are enrolled in California public schools, 58% of whom are low-income and eligible for free or reduced price meals and 23% are designated English learners (ELs). There are more than 46,000 school-aged foster youth in California. Research has shown that on average low-income students, foster youth and EL s benefit from additional resources, such as extra instruction time, to be academically successful.
The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) recently enacted in California is the most significant and equitable reform made to the state’s school funding system in nearly 40 years. This historic law helps ensure all children have equitable access to a quality K-12 education and provides additional support to students who are low-income, ELs or foster youth. LCFF provides a uniform, or “base” amount of funding for all students and an additional 20% more funding for high need students, including ELs, low-income and foster youth. Moreover, districts with 55% or more high-needs students receive concentration grants, which translates into 50% more funding for each student above the 55% threshhold. It is estimated that it will take approximately 8 years to fully fund the new formula.
New with LCFF, by July 1st of each year, school districts, county offices of education and charter schools will be required to formulate, with community input, and adopt Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), linking state priorities related to academic achievement, parental involvement, school climate and student engagement to a school’s annual budget.
California should work to successfully implement the Local Control Funding Formula by blending the benefits of flexibility and accountability. This would mean providing sufficient flexibility so local communities can respond to student needs, support innovation, monitor and ensure equitable investments are made in high-needs students and make certain that authentic community engagement is occuring throughout the state.
A diverse coalition of education, equity, business, parent and civic leaders, in concert with the governor’s leadership, made the Local Control Funding Formula a reality. Now state and local leaders must focus on ensuring that it is implemented to achieve the intended results.
2013-14 represents a transition year from California’s old funding system to LCFF with some key policy decisions still pending that will establish specific parameters and guidelines around how local school districts craft and report their budget and spending plans. Local transitions to LCFF are beginning to focus on planning, community engagement and establishing an infrastructure for working under the new funding formula.