How school funding works (and why it doesn’t).
California handles school finance differently than most every other state. Most states allow towns and counties to levy taxes to finance their schools. In California, school funding is controlled by the state legislature. For us, the legislature determines how much money we’ll get every year for each student enrolled. And that’s it. It puts us at 47th in the country for per-student funding. The most generous states spend as much as three times more.
2013 Changes: No Change for us.
In June 2013, new legislation was passed to provide additional funding over and above the base funding that all school districts receive– but only for English Language Learners and impoverished students. While the goal of this legislation is laudable - to give students who require more educational resources more funding - its consequences are problematic for our high-performing district. Scarce resources are allocated toward funding under-performing districts while our schools must make do with even less.
In addition to lacking local control over tax revenue, our state has limited sources of revenue for schools. The passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 reduced revenue available for education funding. Since then, most of the revenue for school funding no longer comes from property taxes. Instead, it comes from business and personal income taxes, sales taxes, and some special taxes—all of which fluctuate. Because of that fluctuation, school funding is especially difficult. Though 2013’s Proposition 98 sought to regulate funding, it has not alleviated a “feast or famine” budgeting scenario for most school districts. To learn more, go to www.edsource.org.
Local Educational Foundations.
In response to this grim scenario, communities throughout the state formed education foundations to raise funds to support the public schools in their cities. The Foundation is one of these. Over the past 30 years, many of these education foundations have thrived and have succeeded in giving their schools a higher standard of excellence. We encourage you to visit their websites to see how compelling and successful these foundations have become. All of them directly support their districts—and in so doing, they protect the reputation of their communities as places where people want to live and raise children. The most successful are La Canada, Palos Verdes, Santa Monica/Malibu and Manhattan Beach.