Did districts concentrate new state money on highest-needs schools? Answer: Depends on the district.
Marguerite Roza, Tim Coughlin and Laura Anderson
California in 2013 implemented a watershed weighted student funding formula (WSF) that deployed substantial new funds to districts based on their counts of student types, while also stripping long-standing spending constraints on districts. The state finance formula (the Local Control Funding Formula or LCFF) specifically boosted allocations to districts for their foster youth, students with limited English and those living in poverty. But California’s funding law does not require districts to deploy resources generated on behalf of their high-needs students to the schools those students attend.
Our December 2017 analysis of eight districts takes a first look at whether districts did, in fact, allocate a larger share of their new funds to their highest-needs schools. First, we find that districts generally aren’t tracking allocations by school. That means district and state leaders and the public mostly don’t know whether the new funds are boosting spending on the highest-needs schools. Where school-level data was accessible, we find that some districts did allocate a larger share of their new money and staffing to the highest-needs schools. Others did the opposite. Our findings underscore the need for districts to publicly report spending by school. This paper is part 2 of a series analyzing early impacts of LCFF.