SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday proposed a sweeping overhaul of K-12 education financing that would provide more money for low-income schools and give districts more control over how they can spend state funds.
Fresh off voter-approved hikes in the state sales tax and income taxes on the wealthy, the Democratic governor’s newly unveiled budget plan allocates $2.7 billion more for elementary and secondary education and community colleges for the next fiscal year.
Spending on K-12 and two-year colleges would total $56.2 billion for 2013-14. That figure would return the state to nearly prerecession funding after a series of spending cuts. Of the additional amount allocated for the fiscal year starting July 1, the governor wants to use $1.8 billion to pay school districts what the state already owes them in late payments for previous years.
Besides restoring funds, Brown wants to drastically change the way the state distributes money to schools.
The proposal retains the current system’s feature of awarding money based on attendance, but it would add up to 35 percent more based on the proportion of English learners, foster children and low-income students in each district.
Districts with more than half of their student population classifying as low-income, as measured by free or reduced price lunch participants, would receive additional funds in a poverty “concentration” grant.
The shift is sure to cause an outcry among wealthier school districts, but Brown framed it as an obligation to provide more help to low-income districts.
“Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont,” he said. “It is controversial, but it is right and it’s fair.”
Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, a Republican from Diamond Bar, said Brown’s proposal was generally sound, but he wanted to ensure that suburban districts would not lose funding.