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Complex Public School Funding Issue Explained by LCUSD's Bill Loose

August 25, 2005|By Ralph Saenz

Bill Loose, La Cañada Unified School District deputy superintendent for fiscal and human resources, explained some of the intricacies of public school funding in a press release given out last week.

There has been some confusion regarding certain aspects of the ongoing contract talks between the LCUSD and the La Cañada Teacher Association, particularly in terms of additional funding received by the district and the correct COLA (cost of living allowance) the teachers will be expected to receive in their new contract.

In the release, Loose explained that some sources have said that the district will be getting 5.5 percent in additional funding for 2005-2006. This additional funding, he said, will come from state statutory COLA (4.23 percent) and deficit reduction funds from the state (1.23 percent).

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In the release, Loose cautioned that the district can't add or subtract these figures to determine a final new funding percentage for LCUSD. This complex calculation also includes increases and decreases in a number of programs.

In the LCUSD budget for 2005-2006, the unrestricted revenue from the state is projected to increase by $744,000, approximately 3.55 percent. In addition, the restricted revenue from the state will increase by about $95,000 or 2.1 percent for the year. With an increase in federal funding, the press release said, the total net gain in both state and federal revenue is $910,000 or about 3.5 percent for the year.

Loose also explained what a deficit factor is in dealing with the budget. He said the deficit factor is a percentage deducted from the increased revenue owed by the state school districts. This occurs, the press release said, in budget years when the state decided not to fully fund the schools. The current year's deficit factor is now 0.909 percent, down from the previous projection of 1.132 percent. The deficit factor was 3.02 percent for the 2003-2004 school year and 2.143 percent for the 2004-2005 school year.

Loose described what deficit reduction funds are. In the release, he said that in some budget years, the State of California does not give public schools the full funding owed by law. In a future budget year, when the state decides to pay off debt, school districts will receive deficit reduction funds to help make up the amounts owed during the previous years.

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