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State Superintendent Reacts To Funding Gap

— California’s school districts are in deep financial trouble, but some in rich neighborhoods are faring quite well, according to a KPBS/Watchdog investigation.

Special Feature Funding Maps for Basic Aid Districts

To search the maps, click on a district to view revenue and per student funding information about that district. The highlighted districts are basic aid districts.

In California, neighborhood property values should not determine how well a public school is funded. A 40-year-old court ruling was supposed to put an end to the funding gap between rich and poor neighborhoods.

But an analysis of government statistics revealed some small school districts in affluent neighborhoods have nearly twice the funding as other public schools.

Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Above: Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Tom Torlakson is the state’s newly elected superintendent of public education. In response to the KPBS/Watchdog Institute investigation, Torlakson said on twitter he’s concerned about the inequities and his transition team has a committee looking at the issue.

Brooks Allen, the Director of Education Advocacy for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California said education cuts across the state are painful for everyone, but the inequities in the system are "quite disturbing."

“These wide disparities in funding between one district and a neighboring district are precisely the issues that drove plaintiffs to file the Serrano v. Priest action," Allen said. That 1968 California Supreme Court ruling ordered the state to address the gap between rich and poor neighborhoods.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | May 19, 2011 at 5:19 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

Government leaders should be ashamed that we do not help out the poorer neighborhood districts. The reason they do not perform well is because they do not have the tools in the first place. This is why they need us to invest in their school districts for teachers, supplies, and encouragement.

This is not to say that well-off neighborhoods should not be rewarded for their performance, but their are other ways to reward them. Our government leaders simply need to provide different incentives.

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Avatar for user 'lifeslittlefolly'

lifeslittlefolly | May 21, 2011 at 8:09 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

A little non-judgement info to look at for the ...
check for other legal cases on schools.

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Avatar for user 'Joanne Faryon'

Joanne Faryon, KPBS Staff | May 21, 2011 at 9:08 p.m. ― 5 years, 10 months ago

lifeslittlefolly, great link, thanks! But I'm not sure I understand completely.
It appears the Serrano Band is still in place - and at the time of the ruling 99 percent of students were within the band. However, higher property values and shrinking revenue limits has the number of basic aid districts increasing - 125 of the nearly 1000 districts. How do you see it - does the current status violate any of the rulings? And if it doesn't violate rulings, but the state wanted to enforce a different policy for equity's sake - could they re-allocate excess property taxes to all districts in a county? Curious about your analysis.

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