Changes Could be Coming to California School Funding

Written by T. Logan Dayne  

A new bill is being proposed that seeks to change the way k-12 funding will be distributed within California. For years, California schools received funding based on the average of daily attendance records. State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge) from the 25th district, representing areas like Pasadena and Glendale in Los Angeles county, is proposing a bill that will redistribute funds based on enrollment rather than attendance, a move that could provide a significant boost to districts such as Los Angeles Unified.

Attendance based funds have been used as a way to hold schools accountable for student absences. This comes in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a large drop in school attendance, especially from kindergarten. Families fleeing the state’s restrictions and taxes along with a declining birth rate have had a significant toll on California’s school enrollment. However, even before any pandemic, attendance for K-12 students was already a problem. Over 6 million students were marked chronically absent (defined as missing at least 10% of the school year), with Black students doubling the rate of absenteeism compared to White students.

Supporters of the new changes argue that enrollment based policies are less volatile, allowing schools to better plan out budgets and spend money more efficiently, especially over longer time tables. Portantino’s proposal also requires that half the money received under the new policy be put towards combating chronic absenteeism and truancy. Portantino also claims that no school district will lose their current funding level with a “hold harmless” provision meaning that current levels of funding should be maintained if the bill should be put into effect for the 2023-2024 school year. 

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