Revised budget suggests additional funds to Nevada County schools
With the release of Gov. Brown’s revised budget, the financial future of schools statewide appears stagnant or positive with an end to the seemingly perpetual budget cuts.
According to budget documents, the General Fund revenues that drive Proposition 98, which designates a minimum amount of funding to schools, are projected to grow by more than $1 billion for 2012-13 and 2013-14 but with a projected increase of $2.8 billion in 2012-13 and a decrease of $1.8 billion for 2013-14.
The revision also includes an increase of first-year funding for the Local Control Funding Formula of $240 million, as well as $1 billion for implementation of new nationwide Common Core standards, the latter of which will mean a temporary average increase of about $170 per student.
“It’s not a lot of new money, but it’s better than what we’ve had, and it looks positive for the future,” said Holly Hermansen, Nevada County superintendent of schools.
The Local Control Funding Formula includes a base grant for each local education agency equal to the 2007-08 statewide average of undeficited revenue limit, an adjustment of 11.23 percent to the base grant to support reduction of class sizes in grades K-3, an adjustment of 2.8 percent to operate career technical education programs in high schools and a 35 percent supplemental grant for English learners, students from low-income families or foster youth and an additional concentration grant up to 17.5 percent of a school’s base grant based on the number of the aforementioned students.
“We are uncertain of the exact numbers for this increase for school districts in Nevada County at this time, but estimates are that most districts will receive an average of $150 per student for the 2013-2014 school year, some a little more, some a little less,” Hermansen said.
By setting a statewide base funding target, the model sets to equalize funding and avoid a school’s receipt of less funding than the 2012-13 year, the budget summary stated.
What this means for Nevada County is that schools will receive one-time funds for Common Core implementation and the pay-down of deferrals, which have wracked schools for years where the state defers payment until a later date, and partial funding for the LCFF.
“So there’s new money going in to revise how school districts are going to get their money to establish those base funding models with supplemental increases for low-income, foster youth and English learners,” Hermansen said.
Nevada County does not have a significant number of English-language learners, though schools that do will benefit from some additional grant money. The Free and Reduced Lunch count, however, has been increasing, which should provide additional funds, Hermansen said.
The grants for specific groups of students must be used to help those students through instructional materials, professional development of teachers, etc. The rest of the base funding can be used at the discretion of schools. This means decisions will be made at the local level rather than the state, a change from the current model, although during the height of the budget crisis, those restrictions were freed.
“This just keeps that model going and makes it permanent, so funding can be used for whatever areas,” Hermansen said.
The revised budget also proposes a 10 percent increase each year for seven years, Hermansen said, which is a positive because of the consistent cuts that schools faced for many years.
However, when fully implemented in 2019-20, the amount of the base grants for school districts will still be equal to the 2012-13 average revenue limit, said Hermansen, “meaning while there are increases to come with this model, it is still only restoring cuts that have been made.”
Though the revised budget gives a better idea of what funding may look like, it is still unknown how the legislature will vote to make the final decision.
“Sometimes it changes a whole lot and sometimes it doesn’t,” Hermansen said. “It’s up to the legislature on what parts they agree on or don’t agree on.”
Hermansen said the budget’s proposed end to reductions and increase in new money is good news, but much is still undetermined.
“Everything is still so unclear on how (the budget) actually looks and how that will be implemented on the local level because it’s just not firm yet,” Hermansen said. “This is just the governor’s proposal, so there’s lot of work to still be done.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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