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June 25, 2015

Billions More for Schools in Final 2015-16 Budget

On June 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed the state budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year which begins on July 1. The budget reflects the agreement made with the legislature. The final budget includes a Proposition 98 school funding guarantee of $68.4 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal year. This provides $6 billion for the continued implementation of the Local Control Funding formula, $20 million more for the Charter School Facility Grant Program and over $3 billion in one-time per-pupil block grants to schools. CCSA is extremely grateful that the Governor and the legislature have agreed to invest so much of the state's new revenues in education, and these significant funding increases will be a welcome restoration of the recession-era cuts. The increase in facility funding for charter schools, and the associated expansion in program eligibility, acknowledge access to adequate school facilities as one of the most significant challenges facing charter schools.

CCSA is disheartened that Governor Brown and the legislature failed to include new charter schools and to fully include growing charter schools within the allocation for over $3 billion in one-time block grants. Because these funds will be allocated based on prior year enrollment, students in new charter schools and additional students in growing schools will not have access to nearly $600 per pupil that will be provided for students in other schools. The decision not to fund these programs based upon current year's enrollment is a step back from the promise of full funding equity for charter school students - a hallmark of the Local Control Funding Formula - and CCSA will redouble its efforts to ensure that a commitment to providing full funding equity for all public schools students, including charter school students, is restored in next year's budget and maintained for years to come.

Below are some other key highlights of the budget that may affect charter schools. For details on these, and other budget issues, see CCSA's 2015-16 Final Budget Brief.

  • $992 million to eliminate all apportionment payment deferrals
  • $900 million over three years for a new Career Technology Education grant program
  • $490 million for one-time block grants to provide professional development to teachers and administrators
  • $67 million to implement a package of specified special education reforms primarily targeted for improved and increased services for infants and preschoolers with disabilities
  • $50 million for a second year of technology infrastructure grants targeted at schools that lack Internet access sufficient to administer online tests

Local Control Funding Formula

The LCFF is a major restructuring of California's school funding system that began in the 2013-14 fiscal year. It is a significant step toward a more equitable and adequate funding system for California's schools, including charter schools. Charter schools are no longer funded through Charter School Block Grant Funding Model. The LCFF will be phased-in over several years, as new school funding is available, until target rates are attained.

LCFF Resources

  • CCSA's 2015-16 Final Budget Brief
  • CCSA's LCFF funding simulator - updated for the 2015-16 Final Budget Act to assist in estimating your LCFF funding amounts for 2015-16
  • State Board of Education's Final Regulations adopting spending guidelines and the Local Control Accountability Plan Template
  • RECOMMEND REVIEW/UPDATEFrequently Asked Questions on the Local Control Accountability Plans for Charter Schools (January 2014) provides CCSA's perspective on many of the implementation issues charter schools are facing in developing an LCAP. This resource will be updated periodically.
  • RECOMMEND REVIEW/UPDATE CCSA's LCFF Accountability Plan Summary provides many of the details and timelines to understand the new requirements for charter schools.
  • DELETE - BROKEN LINK Watch the webinar

Historical materials for reference

Some key elements of the LCFF include:

  • A grade level base targets for all pupils
  • A supplemental grant weight for all high needs pupils of 20 percent of the base grant
  • Data used for weighted funding will be calculated on a three-year rolling average beginning in 2013-14. Therefore, it is critical that all charter schools accurately report, review and correct any errors for all data submitted through the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CalPADS).
  • A concentration grant of 50 percent of the base for each high needs pupil above 55 percent of the district's total enrollment. However, charter schools are capped at the percent of high needs pupils in the district in which the charter is located.
  • An Economic Recovery Target (ERT) to make sure all districts and charters get to their pre-recession, inflation adjusted funding per pupil.
  • Growth funding is provided in the year in which the growth occurs.
  • Class Size Reduction and Career Technical Education funding is built into the LCFF targets through a grade span adjustment for K-3 and high school ADA.

Beginning in 2013-14, the LCFF provides a base per-pupil rate per grade level spans: K-3, 4-6, 7-8 and 9-12. In addition, each pupil who is identified as an English Learner, or who is eligible for free or reduced price meals (FRPM), or who is a foster youth, generates an additional supplement. Under the LCFF, the weight is 20 percent of the base grant. (A pupil is only eligible for one weight, regardless of whether he or she is eligible in more than one category.)

In addition to the base and weight, districts receive an additional weighted grant if they have a high need eligible population that exceeds 55 percent of the district's total Average Daily Attendance (ADA). This concentration grant provides an additional 50 percent weight for each pupil exceeding 55 percent eligible pupils at the district. Charter schools are also eligible for a concentration grant, but their eligibility is capped at the average FRPM rate of the district in which the school is located, rather than the actual FRPM percent of the charter school.

Under the LCFF, virtually all revenue limit and categorical funding, including the Charter School Categorical Block Grant, are rolled into the new LCFF grants, with a few exceptions. Special Education, nutrition, After School Education and Safety, and federal programs continue to be funded outside of the LCFF. Targeted Instruction Improvement Grants (TIIG) and Home to School Transportation are also not be rolled into the LCFF and will continue to be provided to those districts that currently receive those funds. K-3 Class Size Reduction (CSR) funds are allocated as a per-pupil add on to the K-3 base grant and Career Technical Education funding is allocated as a per-pupil add-on to the high school base grant.

The LCFF will be phased-in over approximately eight years, as new school funding is available, until the target rates are attained. We predict that over time the LCFF will improve funding equity for charter schools compared to districts because it unfreezes funds for many programs (including K-3 CSR and other state categorical funds) that have been unavailable to new and growing schools and the base inequity found in the Charter School Categorical Block Grant will be equalized over time. However, some elements of the LCFF, such as the exclusion of TIIG and transportation funding from base grants, and capping concentration grants for charter schools, permanently lock-in inequities between students in charter schools and those in traditional schools.

The LCFF also contains a new accountability structure for school districts and charter schools. The charter school accountability sections use our existing construct of charter petitions rather than trying to fit charter schools into the district construct, but will include new reporting requirements and additional charter content related to pupil outcomes, progress and interventions. Charter schools may receive technical assistance and intervention if the school is consistently not meeting its LCFF plans. However, we are concerned about the lack of appeals for some revocations and the addition of new complaint processes.

Impact on Charter Schools

CCSA believes that the Local Control Funding Formula is a milestone as the state moves forward on education reform issues to address student needs and increase academic success. This issue is larger than charter schools; it is a wholesale reworking of the state's education funding for the more than six million students in California's public schools.

We understand that equity between similarly situated charter public schools and traditional district schools does not necessarily mean equal funding among all charter schools. The LCFF affects each charter school differently. However, it is important to note that under the LCFF, no school will face a funding cut compared to pre-LCFF levels. All funding levels will rise, but some will rise more than others.

While we are excited about the opportunities that this LCFF presents, we have some serious concerns that the LCFF perpetuates some existing inequities in school funding and continues a system that disproportionally disadvantages pupils in charter schools. Specifically, the cap in the concentration grant is an inequitable application of funding for needy pupils and treats similarly situated pupils differently based solely on whether they attend a charter school. In addition, two key categorical programs, transportation and TIIG, are excluded from the base grants which locks in historical inequities and exclude charter schools from accessing these funds.

Member Resources

CCSA remains committed to providing you the most up to date and complete information possible. Further, even with new revenues as a result of the passage of Proposition 30, the state's financial situation remains somewhat volatile. We will do all we can to keep you informed and provide the tools necessary for the most effective planning possible.

CCSA resources available to assist you include:

  • Budget briefs, cash management tools and more in the Charter Schools Resource Library (Budget and Financial Management section). Try the filter in the left column to further refine results.
  • Budget template for School Developers
  • Weekly communications: If you someone at your school is not receiving the weekly Capitol Update, Weekly Member Digest or periodic Member Alerts, contact Government Affairs or Membership for subscription assistance.
  • Webinars and in-person meetings such as regional meetings and business manager meetings for one-on-one interaction with experts and other colleagues. Watch the events webpage or Weekly Member Digest for updates.
  • Contact the Help Desk for technical questions, or connections to strategy and support.

Visit the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) for additional budget information.

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