California is moving toward a new way of funding schools that’s much simpler and fairer. Historically, California has had one of the most complicated education funding systems in the country. In 2013, California approved the biggest changes to this system in decades. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which was proposed by Governor Jerry Brown as the state’s new school funding system, directs more funds to districts with the most high-need students and gives local districts more flexibility on how to spend the money they receive.
“We are bringing government closer to the people, to the classroom where real decisions are made and directing the money where the need and the challenge is greatest.” – California Governor Jerry Brown
What is the Local Control Funding Formula?
Under the new formula, all districts will get the same base funding per student, depending on grade level, and some will get more to educate a few student populations–low-income students, English learners, and students in foster care. Schools serving these high-need populations will get 20 percent more than the base funding for each of these students, and an additional 55 percent for districts with lots of high-needs kids (more than 55 percent).
The basic idea is that some schools with more challenges, that means a school that has more kids that need to learn English or live in a high-poverty neighborhood, need more resources to meet our ambitious academic goals for all students.
By 2020-21, LCFF will provide nearly $10 billion for lower-income and English learner students and those in foster care.
Why does LCFF matter? What does it mean for my school?
While the LCFF represents a major positive reform, this does not change the fact that California’s schools remain chronically underfunded. All schools will receive at least as much state funding as they did before the big recession, with the schools and districts that are serving high numbers of high-need students receiving the largest increases.
Districts will also have more flexibility around how they spend their funds. In the past, much of the money that went to schools had to spent only in specific areas like textbooks or bussing.
One positive component of LCFF is that it requires schools to engage families in decisions about how resources are allocated. Each year, every district and school has to write a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP). This is a chance for families to raise their voices and get involved.
What is the LCAP?
Districts are required to work with parents and community members to create a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). The plan must spell out the district’s goals for improving student outcomes according to eight priorities set by the state, and align spending to meet the goals. Districts that fail to meet their goals and improve student outcomes will receive assistance from county offices of education and through a new agency, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence. Districts that are persistently failing could be subject to state intervention or even a state takeover.
The eight priorities are:
- Basic services, such as credentialed teachers
- Instructional materials aligned with state standards
- Safe, well-maintained facilities
- Programs and services that enable all students to learn to state standards
- Access to a broad course of study that prepares for college and careers
- Improved achievement and outcomes
- Engagement and parent involvement
- School climate
Top Resources to Learn More
- Edsource: Guide to the Local Control Funding Formula
- California PTA: Guide to the LCFF and LCAP (En español)
- California PTA: Key Questions for Parents to Ask Districts and School Principals About the LCAP (En español)
- LCAP Watch: Find your district’s LCAP plan on the site run by Education Trust-West.