TRUTH: Our whole school funding system has changed. LCFF is the new normal. Most of the money a district gets from the state is now distributed under this new formula and has its own spending and accountability requirements. This law went into effect July 1, 2013.
MYTH: My district can spend its LCFF money however it wants, since its primary purpose is “local control.”
TRUTH: While districts now have more flexibility over how to spend the money than they had in the past, there are still spending requirements. Schools districts are receiving more money for each student who is low-income, learning English, or in foster care. The additional money generated by these students will be distributed through two types of grants, called supplemental and concentration grants, which must be spent on services and supports for English learners, low-income students, and foster youth. And, district and school spending must follow the district’s and school’s plan on to improve the educational outcomes – like higher graduation rates, higher college readiness rates—of the students they serve.
MYTH: There are no restrictions on how any of the LCFF money can be spent until the law is fully implemented, eight years from now.
TRUTH: Districts must spend the supplemental and concentration grant funds on English learners, low-income students, and foster youth immediately. As state revenues grow over the next eight years, there will simply be more money for school districts to spend. Although the State Board of Education will create and adopt more detailed guidelines for how these funds can be used sometime between now and January 2014, the overall requirement that the extra money must spent for disadvantaged students still stands and was effective July 1, 2013.
TRUTH: Along with the funding changes, the state instituted new accountability requirements. Districts must create plans that describe goals, actions, and spending plans across eight priority areas. These must be addressed for each major student group and for each school site. If districts fail to meet certain goals, the county office of education or state department of education are required to step in and provide support to help them reach their goals. The details of how this will look are still being worked out by the State Board of Education.
TRUTH: Districts must include detail on how they are spending the money within their local plans. The law is regrettably vague on how much information districts must report at the school level. We believe it is important for the state to clarify that school site spending must also be reported in a clear, online, and consistent format for community audiences.
MYTH: Since LCFF sends more money to school districts, they can now increase salaries and hire back librarians, counselors, art and P.E. teachers, and re-staff AP programs.
TRUTH: While most districts are receiving more money, there are still spending requirements. In particular, they must spend the additional dollars they received for their most underserved students to increase or improve services for those students. Supplemental and concentration grant funds cannot be shuffled into across-the-board pay raises or into general programs, however worthy those programs may be. On the other hand, base grant revenues—money that is meant to keep the lights on and a school running—can be used for those purposes.