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Giving Compass' Take:
· Jennifer Bestor addresses the varying cost of school financing across the state of California and why the school funding formula needs to be revised to include regional cost differences.
· How do education costs vary by region? How can the funding formula be reevaluated to include regional cost differences?
Everyone talks about the dramatic cost difference between California counties, but does nothing about it. Children in the poorest districts in the wealthiest counties pay the price of our inaction. Many do so unnecessarily.
Let’s review what we know.
Does the cost to run a school differ around the state? Yes. Over 80 percent of school funding is related to personnel. No Californian expects to get by on the same income in San Francisco as in Fresno or Bakersfield. The most recent of many studies on California’s regional cost differences documents a “bare bones” budget for a family of four in San Francisco ($123,442) that is over twice as high as one in Fresno ($59,440) or Bakersfield ($57,898) — indeed, twice as high as in 22 of California’s 58 counties.
How does California’s school funding scheme, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), handle San Francisco’s high costs? It doesn’t. The formula is identical throughout the state. This forces school districts like San Francisco to spend a disproportionate share of their time juggling budgets and finding funding. Administrators beat the bushes for money — parcel taxes, funding from the city, grants — while trading off class size, staff experience, competitive pay, clerical support and building maintenance. This sometimes leads to tensions between schools with higher and lower PTA funding.
Read the full article about school funding costs by Jennifer Bestor at EdSource.