Report Card

News and discussion on K-12 schools in the greater Sacramento region

June 13, 2013
From the notebook: California K-12 plan favors urban districts

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Jim Sanders and I interviewed over a dozen local education leaders for today's story detailing how K-12 districts plan to use additional funds they will receive from the state budget. We have added additional information here on the Report Card.

One of the most notable changes under the overhaul state leaders plan to approve is that districts with large concentrations of low-income students and English learners will receive more money. Gov. Jerry Brown and advocates argue that schools need more resources to provide a similar level of education that students from more affluent families receive.

Locally, Sacramento City Unified will receive $307 more per student next year; Elk Grove, $274; San Juan, $243; Roseville City, $228; and Davis, $224, according to the state Department of Finance.

California's largest urban districts tended to do much better, however: Los Angeles Unified will receive $364 more per student next year; San Diego Unified, $321; and Long Beach Unified, $342. Fresno Unified fares even better, at $433 more per student.

In a state where predicting revenues one year in the future has proven impossible, it is difficult to know exactly how much more money will be available for schools down the road. Besides that, education advocates acknowledge that legislators, Brown and subsequent governors are likely to tinker with the school funding overhaul in future budgets.

But Brown's Department of Finance has provided data that projects how much money districts will receive in 2020-21, and the disparity between urban districts and other districts grows even larger.

By 2020-21, Los Angeles will receive $1,738 more per student than it received in 2007-08, prior to the state's recession, records show. By comparison, Sacramento City will receive $1,387 more per student, while local suburban districts will receive lesser hikes: Elk Grove, $274 more per student, for example; and Roseville City, $228.

Bob Blattner, a school district consultant, said that he fears state officials who crafted the compromise were "more in a rush to get it done than get it right."

Educators understand the need to provide extra money for disadvantaged children, but the new formula slights hard-to-educate students in districts that don't meet its poverty threshold and it doesn't go far enough in raising per-pupil funding to benefit all students, Blattner said.

"I can't imagine that anyone with a straight face would say the base grant is close to adequate," Blattner said. "I think we missed a priceless opportunity to develop a funding formula that would serve every California student."

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About Report Card

Loretta KalbLoretta Kalb started her reporting career at The Sacramento Union, moved to KOVR-13 as a television reporter, editor and producer, headed to The Associated Press in San Francisco and eventually returned to Sacramento and joined The Sacramento Bee. Throughout her career, she has covered the state Legislature, courts, local government and, now, education. She is a Chico native and an Elk Grove resident.

Diana LambertDiana Lambert began her journalism career as a proofreader at the Lodi News-Sentinel. She is now a senior writer at The Sacramento Bee covering K-12 education and California State University, Sacramento. Previously she was The Bee’s Elk Grove bureau chief. Lambert was raised in a military family and lived at bases around the globe. She attended four high schools, graduating from Tokay High in Lodi and then Sacramento State University. She lives in Elk Grove.

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