Brown’s budget adds new reporting mandate on LEAs

Brown’s budget adds new reporting mandate on LEAs

(Calif.) Faced with growing pressure from advocates of low-income families to improve educational services for at-risk students, the Brown administration proposed late last week new transparency requirements on district spending.

As part of the revised May budget, the governor also wants to spend $13.3 million to give local educational agencies more support and guidance in how to bring parents and other community stakeholders into the process of building the Local Control Accountability Plans.

The two proposals come forward as lawmakers consider legislation sponsored by the California PTA that would strengthen requirements that schools engage parents in spending decisions over the use of billions of dollars in state aid to targeted students—English learners, low-income students and foster youth.

The package is one of the few new ideas added to the state budget plan from the one that Gov. Jerry Brown rolled out in January.

If adopted without change, Brown would provide a record $78.4 billion in Proposition 98 funding to K-12 schools and community colleges.

Although some $8 billion in unanticipated revenue have flowed into state coffers since the beginning of the year, the governor has proposed adding just $320 million above what he included in the January plan.

Unlike past years when schools got the lion’s share of any unexpected windfall, the economic conditions this year and next that govern the state’s complex funding formula for K-12 schools and community colleges allows most of the money to go to other programs.

As a result, Brown is using about $2.6 billion of the unexpected dollars on public infrastructure projects, homeless programs and mental health. The rest of it he wants to put into the reserve fund, which if legislative leaders agree, would grow to $13.8 billion.

“Revenues have grown since January, but so have expenditures, and we’re getting further and further away from the recession,” Brown said at a news conference at the Capitol Friday. “That’s something people ought to keep in mind, because the longest recovery ever was 10 years, and we’re getting very close to that tenth year.”

The big run-up in revenues, analysts say, is tied to the investor profits over the past two years in the stock market. The administration reported that capital gains taxes will reach an all-time high of close to $140 billion for California when all the accounting is completed for 2017.

But because of the workings of the voter-approved school funding guarantee, K-12 schools will only receive a small fraction of that money. Indeed, the governor added only $320 million in Proposition 98 funding over what he proposed in January.

Under the funding formula, school funding will be directed by Test 2, which provides what schools got last year with adjustments for attendance and the growth in per capita personal income, which is expected to remain steady next year at 4 percent.

This is not to say that schools will be hurting next year.

The record amount of Proposition 98 funding reflects an increase since the nadir of the recession of $4,600 per student.

That’s also an increase of $31 billion over the past seven years.

The new engagement proposal builds on promises that Brown made in his January budget to impose more accountability on districts for how they use money provided by the state to support at-risk students.

The governor said he wanted requirements on local educational agencies to show how their budget expenditures “align with the strategies detailed” in their LCAP.

In the May document, Brown said he wanted the new reports to be “parent-friendly,” and that they should include “specific information on how supplemental grants are used to increase and improve services for high-need students.”

Other budget highlights for education include:

  • An increase of $11.8 million one-time federal funds to support additional early math resources, including professional learning and coaching for educators, as well as additional math learning opportunities for pre-K through grade 3 children;
  • An increase of $5 million for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence to align resources with updated estimated costs of services in 2018-19;  
  • An increase of $30.1 million in state money to backfill lost property tax revenue for K-12 schools impacted by last fall’s wildfires. Another $13.9 million of one-time federal funds would also be added into the budget for fire-related costs; and
  • Programs that rely on a cost-of-living adjustment will share $10.6 million next year reflect a change from 2.51 percent proposed in January to 2.71 percent at the May Revision.