State rushes first of Local Control money out to schools
By this time next week, schools will have received their first batch of state aid to support Gov. Jerry Brown's Local Control Funding Formula even though entitlement calculations are months away from being finalized.
A total of $26.7 billion is going out from the controller's office by July 31, which represents the first regular installment for the fiscal year as well as about $2.1 billion for LCFF activities.
But with the money, districts are also being warned that adjustments in entitlements are likely. Officials at the California Department of Education said they didn't have enough time to perform all the necessary recalculations needed to fully implement the system - so the money is going out based on last year's allotments.
Elizabeth Dearstyne, an administrator at CDE's fiscal division who helps oversee apportionments, said the process for updating LEA entitlements is not scheduled to be completed until the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. Thus, administrators may find that after the final calibrations are made - state payments may go up or they may go down.
We are basically just flowing money based on the prior year," she explained. "We are just flowing cash based on last year's P-2 funding (the Second Principal Apportionment made in June). The new LCFF formula - in terms of base grants, targets and economic recovery as well as the unduplicated pupil funding - those components won't occur until we do the P-2 certification for 2013-14, which is required to be done by July 2."
The landmark restructuring of state support for K-12 education gives local school boards vast new authority over spending decisions while also providing schools with additional grant money to support educational services to low-income students, English learners and foster youth.
While the new formula greatly simplified the state's complex system for funding schools, both state and local officials face a challenging transition period.
Under the new formula, the Legislature has eliminated the existing system of revenue limit funding as well as almost all categorical programs. Instead, the state has pooled the myriad school programs and services to provide base grants that every district will receive based on average daily attendance with a differential for grade spans.
Districts with high numbers of educationally disadvantaged students also receive a supplemental' grant which provides 20 percent of the base amount. Also, the state is giving concentration' grants to districts where disadvantaged students compromise more than 55 percent of enrollment - funding that adds 50 percent of the base.
Documenting student enrollment and keeping those rolls current is perhaps the biggest of those challenges.
Still, the new funding formula also comes with new accountability mandates that include requirements that LEAs adopt spending plans in consultation with parent advisory groups. There is also an audit provision and demands that districts track for the first time small subgroups as part of the Academic Performance Index.
Regulations governing implementation of the LCFF's accountability component are being developed by the California State Board of Education. Spending standards and policies, for instance, need to be adopted by Jan. 1, 2014.
It is not clear, however, whether district administrators will be retroactively bound by those regulations for spending the LCFF money provided in the preceding months.
At a hearing earlier this month on development of the regulations, members of the state board expressed some concerns about how districts would use the first allotment of LCFF money before the rules were in place. A spokeswoman for the CDE said Tuesday that issue remains unresolved and is still pending before the state board.
To read correspondence from CDE to districts explaining this year's Advance Principal Apportionment, visit: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/pa1314.asp