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Is Gov. Brown Right to Dole Out Money to Schools Unequally?

Compare per student funding in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay schools.

This is what California public education looks like after the Great Recession: 

Between 2007 and 2010, the number of teachers in the state's K-12 classrooms shrunk by 11 percent. Reading specialists, librarians, and other school employees helping students learn declined by 14 percent. Front offices took the hardest blow, with the number of administrators dropping by 16 percent. All these cuts hit schools even as the total enrollment held steady at around 6.2 million students. 

"Our current per pupil allocation under Prop 98 is $6,747, however, due to the fiscal crisis, the State has reduced that allocation by about 22 percent," said Cabrillo Unified School District (CUSD) superintendent Tony Roehrick. "This results in an actual per pupil allocation of $5,224."

The Pacifica School District's (PSD) current per pupil allocation is approximately $4,900, according to PSD superintendent Wendy Turkloff.

Now that California is looking at its first budget without a deficit in five years, Gov. Jerry Brown's budget calls for restoring some money to the state's public schools. But, he does not want to distribute the money equally.

"So this begs the question, are the additional dollars based on what we are getting or what we are suppose to be getting?," said Roehrick "We already have a deficit of $1,503 per pupil [at CUSD schools]. The Governor also talked about having new funding be directed at students of poverty and English learners, the so-called weighted formula. We are not sure how this will play out for us yet."

 "Aristotle said, 'Treating unequals equally is not justice.' And people are in different situations. Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," Brown said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

There are already big differences in the sums school districts get from the state.

Consider two communities Brown mentioned, Piedmont and Richmond. In the 2010-11 school year, Piedmont received $12,287 for every student. The West Contra Costa Unified School District, which includes Richmond, received $9,735 per student.

But only $3,300 of Piedmont’s revenue came from the state. That’s about a third less than the average unified school district gets from Sacramento. Contra Costa Unified School District received $5,600 per student from the state, which is more than the statewide average.

Here’s how Piedmont made up the difference and then some: The $9.1 million that Piedmont raised that school year in parcel taxes was 7,589 percent higher than the statewide average.

For differences in revenues between Coastside school districts during the 2010-11 school year, see the tables at the bottom of this article.

Brown’s spending plan has a $3 billion more than last year for K-12 and community colleges, will that be enough to bridge the economic gap that contributes to the achievement gap, and ultimately becomes a cycle-reinforcing income gap? Does more money improve student performance? 

Cabrillo USD Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for unified school districts State Aid -$9 0% Local Property Taxes $6,211 319% Federal Revenue $738 66% Other State Revenue $822 41% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $865 163% Total $8,627 96%

La Honda-Pescadero USD Revenue for 2010-11

Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for unified school districts State Aid -$18 0% Local Property Taxes $9,429 484% Federal Revenue $2,163 194% Other State Revenue $1,332 67% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $1,624 305% Total $14,530 161% Pacifica SD Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid $2,443 73% Local Property Taxes $3,079 156% Federal Revenue $412 44% Other State Revenue $1,012 68% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $966 132% Total $7,911 93%

Source: California Department of Education, Ed-Data

Additional reporting by Christa Bigue.

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Jim Ahl January 16, 2013 at 10:00 PM
No. Not to schools but to students with vouchers good for public or private schools. Let the school system compete for the students.

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