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Is your school getting the state funds it’s owed? New database shows LAUSD schools are not getting nearly $1.5B intended for students

Sarah Favot | April 24, 2017

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Fourth Street Elementary’s students are supposed to receive nearly $10.5 million under the state’s funding formula, but a new database published by the California Charter Schools Association shows that the East LA school has just $5.4 million to spend.

The database’s release comes after a wave of criticisms levied against LA Unified and other California school districts by organizations that say high-needs students are not receiving additional funding intended for them.

The CCSA’s recently released data show how much money LA Unified schools generate according to the Local Control Funding Formula based on their student population versus how much money the schools actually have to spend.

The database shows that roughly $1.5 billion intended for LA Unified students is not making it to needy schools.

Find out how much your school is getting in state funding — or should be getting.

It is unclear what happens to the money that is not spent by the school. For example, at Fourth Street Elementary where 91 percent of its students are considered “high-needs,” the data do not show what happens to the nearly $5.1 million or about half of the total money that its students generate but is not spent by the school.

“This is about bringing a new level of transparency to the discussion about funding equity,” CCSA President Jed Wallace said in a news release. “So much of what happens inside the district is hidden from view, so we’re eager to bring this data into the light and help all stakeholders better understand how public education dollars are being spent, whether they’re looking at their own neighborhood schools or at the whole system.”

The database only includes LA Unified schools, not independent charter schools, which receive their funding directly from the state. The data show what percentage of students at each school are high-needs. The state funding formula provides more money for schools that have high proportions of English learners, foster youth, and low-income students.

“LA Unified is fortunate to work with a number of critical thought partners in ensuring the spirit of the Local Control Funding Formula is adhered to while it is being implemented over the next several years,” LA Unified spokeswoman Shannon Haber said in an email. “We appreciate the ongoing feedback and welcome all reports as we consider various policy and budget decisions that lay ahead.”

The data show about 65 schools are categorized as “funding met,” meaning the schools receive more than 95 percent of the funding their students generate; 183 schools are “underfunded” meaning schools receive between 80 and 95 percent of the funding their students generate, and 440 schools are “severely underfunded” meaning the school receives less than 80 percent of the funding its students generate.

The school district has been sued by organizations that accuse it diverting funds away from high-needs students.

“Our main intent was how to create transparency around school site funding in a way that allows people to dig deeply into how much funding local schools should be receiving and how much they actually receive,” said Clayton Rosa, CCSA’s director of regional advocacy for the Greater Los Angeles area.

“Especially as we look to where the district is in terms of its fiscal situation, the more we can rally around having a clear picture of what’s happening is going to be pivotal,” Rosa said.

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