In this post, we provide detail on federal funding for K-12 education in California, with a focus on funds that pass through the California Department of Education.

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Natasha Collins

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Budget and Policy Post
February 15, 2017

The 2017-18 Budget

Federal Funding for K-12 Education


In this post, we provide more detail on federal funding for K-12 education in California, with a focus on funds that pass through the California Department of Education. Specifically, we provide an overview of the three major acts governing federal funding for K-12 education, describe several smaller federal programs for schools, and provide information about federal support of the California Department of Education. Unlike previous posts in this series, which describe federal funding in state fiscal year 2014-15, this post generally describes funding in the Governor’s proposed budget for 2017-18.

Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act Authorizes Several Large Child Nutrition Programs. This act authorizes several child nutrition programs administered at the federal level by the United States Department of Agriculture. The largest nutrition programs funded under this act are the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. These two programs comprise 78 percent of the $2.6 billion proposed for California schools in 2017-18. The act supports several other school-based nutrition programs, including programs to provide meals to students in the summer and after school. For some nutrition programs, the state supplements federal funding. The 2017-18 Governor’s budget proposes to provide $161 million in Proposition 98 General Fund support primarily to provide additional reimbursements to schools participating in the federal lunch and breakfast programs.

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Authorizes Programs for Low-Income Children… ESSA authorizes several elementary and secondary education programs administered at the federal level by the United States Department of Education. As Figure 1 shows, the largest ESSA program is support for low-income students (Title I), comprising 75 percent of the $2.6 billion proposed for schools in 2017-18. Title I itself has many components, including formula-based grants for schools educating high proportions of children from low-income families, formula-based grants for states to provide supplemental educational services for the children of migrant workers, and funding for states to administer standardized assessments.

Figure 1

Funding for Every Student Succeeds Act

Proposed 2017‑18a (In Millions)

Support for:

Low‑income students (Title I)

$1,958

Teachers and administrators (Title II)

238

English learners (Title III)

145

After‑school programs and charter schools (Title IV)

164

Rural schools (Title V)

1

American Indian education (Title VI)

7b

Schools on federal lands (Title VII)

85b

Total

$2,598

aDoes not include various competitive grant awards. In 2016, we estimate California educational entities received a total of $60 million in competitive grant funding.

bLAO estimates.

…And Several Other School Programs. As Figure 1 shows, ESSA also supports several other aspects of K-12 education. The largest of these other areas is professional development for teachers and administrators, comprising almost 10 percent of all ESSA funding. The next largest ESSA programs are for English learners and after school programs (most notably, 21st Century Community Learning Centers). ESSA also funds various other initiatives, including support for rural schools, American Indian education, and schools on federal lands. (Funding for American Indian education and schools on federal lands is awarded directly to schools and does not pass through the California Department of Education.) California provides state funding for similar purposes as ESSA. Most notably, the state provides significant funding targeted for low-income students and English learners under its main per-pupil funding formula. (In 2016-17, we estimate the state provided $8.6 billion for this purpose.) In addition, the state provides earmarked funding for afterschool programs, assessments, and schools in rural areas.

Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Authorizes Special Education Programs. As with ESSA, IDEA is administered at the federal level by the United States Department of Education. Nearly all IDEA funding is for direct services for children with disabilities ages 3 through 22. For each child identified with a disability, school administrators and teachers must meet annually with the child’s parents to identify the specific services the child is to receive. These services account for 96 percent of the $1.3 billion IDEA funding proposed for schools in 2017-18, with the state contributing an additional $3.8 billion. The remaining 4 percent of federal funding supports services for children birth through age three.

Two Other Notable Federal Education Programs Administered by State. The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act provides about $50 million annually to schools to increase the quality of CTE. Schools use the funding to develop CTE curriculum, offer professional development for CTE teachers, and purchase equipment and supplies for the classroom. In addition, the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act provides about $7 million annually to schools for providing homeless children extra services such as transportation and help accessing social services.

Federal Funding for California Department of Education State Operations. The 2017-18 budget proposes to provide $161 million in federal funding to the California Department of Education to administer various federal programs. In a review we conducted in 2014, we found that federal funding supported almost 70 percent of the department’s operations budget. State funding supported about 20 percent of the department’s operations costs, with remaining support coming from various other fund sources.