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Gov’s “Weighted” Funding Formula Will Transform LAUSD – If It Passes

Hillel Aron | February 22, 2013

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Governor Jerry Brown’s new proposal for distributing education dollars to school districts could be a major win for LAUSD, according to Superintendent John Deasy.

“It’s the single greatest education policy shift in the last 35 years in California,” Deasy told LA School Report on Thursday. “It’s really brilliant by the Governor in so many ways.”

The new formula would raise LAUSD’s per-student funding level by $4,156 within a few years — an increase of over 50 percent above the current level. However, the proposal must be approved by the State Legislature first.

Funding for all schools was already expected to increase significantly, thanks to a growing economy and the passage of Proposition 30. The passage of Proposition 39, which taxes out-of-state corporations to pay for solar energy, could also make for a big windfall for public schools.

On Wednesday, the State Department of Finance released a breakdown of much money each school district would get under Brown’s new proposal. Under the current formula, LAUSD receives $7,509 per student. The new “weighted formula,” which, if approved, would be phased in over the next seven years, would raise that amount to $7,837 in the 2013-14 school year, $8,339 in 2014-15, and $11,993 per student by 2020, when the formula is fully implemented. (See also the LA Times and EdSource.)

Superintendent Deasy was quick to caution that the full benefits of the plan wouldn’t be seen for a few years. “It won’t happen immediately,” he said. “but if this formula is able to be protected exactly how it is, by year three, we wont have structural deficit.”

If it doesn’t pass, he said, “we’re back to a very, very negative place.”

The new plan has the potential to radically change the tenor of debate within California public education, which for the last five years has largely revolved around the financial crisis and devastating budget cuts.

“It’s a relatively straight forward proposition to say, ‘Give us more money,'” said USC political science professor Dan Schnur. “Governor Brown’s proposal just made the discussion a lot more complicated.”

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