New school funding proposal would boost some district budgets dramatically

Published: Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 5, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Robla School District would be a big winner locally if the governor's budget is approved as proposed, according to estimates released Thursday by the state Department of Finance.

The tiny school district in northern Sacramento County would see a 77.7 percent increase in per-pupil funding over seven years – up to $11,556 per student annually.

Next school year, the five-school district could see a 5.9 percent increase in funding under the formula, bringing its funding per student to $6,885 annually.

"This is a chance to look at our program and ask 'What do we want it to look like? How do we want to educate these children? How do we make the biggest impact?" Terri Ryland, interim chief business officer, said Thursday.

The governor's proposed Local Control Funding Formula would give school districts additional money based on the number of low-income students, English language learners and foster children in their schools.

Forty-five percent of the 2,000 students in the Robla Elementary district are English language learners and 84 percent are eligible to receive free and reduced-priced lunch, Ryland said.

The formula would be implemented gradually over seven years, with no schools receiving less than their 2012-13 funding level, according to state officials.

Winters Joint Unified and Woodland Joint Unified also would be big winners, increasing their funding by 72.4 percent and 74.7 percent, respectively, by the time the formula is in full effect. Both districts have a high number of poor children and English language learners.

Funding is expected to increase by more than $2,700 per student statewide in the final five years of implementation, according to state data.

Sacramento County's largest districts would see modest changes this year – Elk Grove Unified, 4 percent; Sacramento City, 4.3 percent; Twin Rivers Unified, 4.2 percent; San Juan Unified, 3.4 percent; Natomas Unified, 4.9 percent; and Folsom Cordova Unified, 3.4 percent.

The districts would see larger increases by the end of the seven-year period. At that time,Twin Rivers is estimated to get $11,993 per pupil annually; Sacramento City, $10,939; Natomas Unified, $10,058; Elk Grove, $9,883; and Folsom Cordova, $9,190. The districts currently get between $6,000 to $7,500 per pupil annually.

Indian Diggings, Latrobe Elementary and Silver Fork Elementary school districts in El Dorado County would see no changes in their budgets. The districts are funded by property taxes instead of state funds.

Robla School District officials are being cautiously optimistic about the potential windfall, waiting to see if the budget plan is approved.

"We aren't going to budget for it yet," Ryland said.

Ultimately, she said, the school board will decide how to spend the extra money. The possibilities include reducing class sizes and implementing the new Common Core Standards, Ryland said.

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