Originally published June 17, 2013 at 6 a.m., updated June 18, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.
Randolph Ward, Ed.D., Superintendent, San Diego County Office of Education
Kyla Calvert, KPBS Education Reporter
San Diego County school districts will now have to learn to manage budgets under a new system.
SAN DIEGO California’s newly adopted budget includes a measure to rebuild the state’s formula for funding schools from scratch.
San Diego County School District 2013-14 Funding
As a result, every San Diego County school district will see per-pupil state funding go up for the coming school year. It’ll be the first of eight years of phasing in a new state system for funding public schools. If all goes according to plan and the state's economy continues to improve, by the 2020-21 school year, most districts will be funded at the levels they would have reached by that time under the previous formula without years of funding cuts due to the economic downturn.
In the place of a per-pupil funding plan that was supplemented by about 70 program-specific funding sources, the state will simplify the way schools are funded. This coming year, the base funding goes up about $500 to more than $7,600 per student. Then districts will get a 20 percent bump for each student who is learning English as a second language, lives in a low-income household or is in foster care. Finally, districts will get another bump if 55 percent or more of their students are in one of these high-needs groups.
Assuming district enrollments and student demographics don’t shift dramatically before school starts in the fall, San Diego County schools will be getting almost $165 million more in state funding. San Diego city schools will receive about $320 more per student.
In the last several years, district were given flexibility to use program-specific funds to cover other costs to cope with about a 23 percent reduction in schools funding from the state, according to Lora Duzyk, assistant superintendent of business services for the San Diego County Office of Education. Because of that flexibility, Duzyk said districts will likely not have to change their budgets much for the coming year to accomodate the new formula.
Without programatic-ties to state funds under the student-based funding system, districts will have more autonomy in their budget-making decisions. The Legislature has also created new accountability requirements where districts will have to show how their budget priorities are tied to improving academic performance -- especially for students in the high-needs groups targeted by the new funding system. However, the state department of education has until January 2014 to draw up the details of the accountability requirements.
Duzyk said districts will have to spend cautiously until they fully understand the new accountability systems and how shifting demographics will impact district budgets that were previously based on enrollment and attendance data.
KPBS' Maureen Cavanaugh, Patty Lane and Peggy Pico contributed to this Midday and Evening Edition segment