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La Cañada Unified School District takes on Governor Brown plan

Board wants all student spending brought to national average.

May 15, 2013|By Sara Cardine

As California's June 30 budget deadline draws near, La Cañada Unified School District officials are partnering with Democratic state legislators and other districts to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's plan for distributing state money and $6 billion in Proposition 30 revenue to schools over the next seven years.

They claim the governor's proposed Local Control Funding Formula — which provides per-pupil base grants, supplemental funding for students who are poor, learning English or in foster care, and still more money for schools where these student subgroups are concentrated — creates winners and losers and fails to adequately restore historic funding cuts.

California currently ranks 47th in the nation for per-pupil spending. Last school year, it spent an average of $8,382 per student — $2,850 less than the national average, according to the California School Board Association. Brown's proposal doesn't bridge that gap, says LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette.

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"Yes, we support reform. Yes, we support local control. But we have to have a higher target that brings funding to every student at least to the national average," she said. "This is a huge opportunity, and to not do it right is a travesty."

On May 3, Sinnette and Board President Scott Tracy met with Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), who recently co-authored Senate Bill 69. The bill calls for educational funding to be developed through a legislative process that would allow for discussion and the creation of accountability measures, rather than through the annual budget process.

"If (the plan) comes out in a budget proposal, the policy committees don't get to discuss the policy," Liu said in an interview Monday. "He skipped that part."

Liu, who also chairs the Senate Education Committee, says the bill suggests Brown raise the base grants for all districts and reconsider the "concentration" grants for schools with 50% or more English learners and low-income students.

"We all agree it takes more resources to teach kids who come from poverty, and it takes a little more for kids to be literate in English," Liu said. "We all agree on the outcome, we just don't agree on how you get there."

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