March 19, 2015 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
February 22, 2013 - The Governor proposes to restructure the way the state allocates funding to school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education. We believe the Governor’s proposed new formulas would address many problems inherent in the state’s existing K-12 funding approach, and we recommend the Legislature adopt most components of the proposal. Unlike the current system, the proposed formulas would be simple and transparent, fund similar students similarly, and link funding to the cost of educating students. We believe the proposed approach could be improved, however, with some notable modifications. We suggest a number of specific changes to better align funding levels with anticipated costs, eliminate irrational funding differences across districts, simplify the formulas, and ensure important state priorities are addressed.
March 10, 2015 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
April 20, 2017 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
January 21, 2015 - Presented to: Senate Education Committee
March 22, 2018 - Presented to Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1 on Education
July 6, 2016 - What Are Alternative Schools and How Does the State Fund Them? This is one in a set of issue briefs examining important questions about education funding in California. For more, see our EdBasics page.
May 10, 2011 - In 2010-11, several County Offices of Education (COEs) reported difficulties balancing their court school budgets. Partly due to the concerns they raised, the Supplemental Report of the 2010-11 Budget Act directed our office to (1) assess whether county court schools have access to an appropriate array of categorical funds and (2) compare court school funding with funding rates for other alternative programs. Our review indicates that COEs, which allot funding to county court schools, generally have access to an appropriate array of categorical funds. Although access to categorical funds does not appear to be a problem, we did identify local cost pressures that could explain why some COEs are having difficulty balancing their court school budgets. While the state’s options for affecting these local decisions are limited, the state could take actions to reduce cost pressures on court schools. We also recommend the state standardize per-pupil funding rates across its alternative education funding system, which could also help COEs manage their court school budgets.
January 20, 2015 - This report examines Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs) for 50 school districts to evaluate whether they reflect thoughtful strategic planning and meet statutory requirements. We find that fulfilling all of the statutory LCAP requirements is a challenging undertaking for districts. Requiring districts to cover every area required in statute—regardless of local conditions—reduces the time and energy districts can spend on areas in need of greatest attention. We recommend the Legislature allow districts to focus their plans on their highest priority areas rather than require them to address all eight state-specified priority areas. We also find that the information in districts’ LCAPs related to the services they will provide to EL/LI students is often unclear and difficult to understand. We recommend several changes that would improve the quality of this information. We also recommend the Legislature clarify the metrics districts can include in their plans. Additionally, we recommend the state disseminate model LCAPs to help districts improve their plans moving forward.
February 26, 2014 - Traditionally, the state has reimbursed local educational agencies (LEAs) for performing mandated activities by requiring them to submit detailed documentation of their costs. In recent years, the state has tried to simplify this process by creating two alternative reimbursement structures. The reasonable reimbursement methodology (RRM) provides reimbursement for a particular mandate using a formula developed in a quasi-judicial forum. The education mandates block grants (one for schools and one for community colleges) provide reimbursement for all active education mandates using a per-student rate established in the budget. Whereas the rarely used RRM process has been very adversarial (once involving litigation) and resulted in long reimbursement delays, nearly all LEAs have chosen to participate in the block grants. Given their overlapping purposes and the comparative advantages of the block grants, we recommend the Legislature repeal the RRM for education mandates.
February 18, 2015 - The Governor's budget includes $7.8 billion in Proposition 98 funding increases for schools and community colleges, including $5 billion for programmatic increases and $2.8 billion for retiring outstanding obligations. In this report, we recommend the Legislature improve some of the Governor's specific Proposition 98 proposals and reject others. Most notably, though we recommend the Legislature adopt the Governor's proposal to provide $500 million for adult education consortia, we recommend making various programmatic improvements, folding some of the Governor's other proposed workforce funding into the adult education program, and rejecting a couple of the Governor's career technical education proposals. We also recommend rethinking the Governor's Internet infrastructure proposal. Additionally, we have various recommendations relating to the Local Control Funding Formula, county offices of education, and education mandates.
February 23, 2023 - This brief provides an overview and analysis of the Governor's proposals to (1) provide ongoing funding for the highest-poverty schools and (2) make several changes to the system of transparency and accountability.
July 29, 2013 - The LCFF, enacted as part of the 2013-14 budget package, establishes a new uniform funding formula and a new system of academic accountability. The formula replaces revenue limits and most categorical programs with uniform base rates for all pupils and provides significantly more funding for English learner and low-income students. The new system of academic accountability requires school districts and charter schools to publicly report how they will use the funds provided under the formula, as well as establishes a new system of support and intervention support for underperforming school districts and charter schools. While the transition to the LCFF begins in 2013-14, it will take several years before all provisions are fully implemented and districts and charter schools are fully funded to formula targets. Moreover, a number of key decisions have yet to be made regarding the implementation of the new fiscal and academic accountability provisions.
March 8, 2016 - Presented to Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance
November 4, 2013 - The LAO’s annual California Spending Plan publication details the 2013-14 budget package, including legislative and gubernatorial actions through October 2013. (Our office released a preliminary electronic version of the report on July 30, 2013 that summarized legislative and gubernatorial actions through that date.) Major features of the 2013-14 budget plan include $2.1 billion for a new formula to distribute funding amongst schools, a state-based plan to expand Medi-Cal to cover more than one million additional low-income adults, and selected program augmentations.