Education funding in California is a perplexing maze of funding streams according to an audit released today by the California State Auditor.
Senator Chuck Poochigian (R-Fresno), a member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee requested the audit last March.
The report titled, California Department of Education: The Extensive Number and Breadth of Categorical Programs Challenges the State´s Ability to Reform and Oversee Them, audited the California Department of Education and the State Controller´s Office in an attempt to uncover the mystery behind $17 billion of education funding for “categorical programs” in the 2001-2002 budget year.
Categorical programs provide specific appropriations to address various education issues. According to the State Auditor, there are 113 state and federal categorical programs for California.
“Unfortunately, many programs intended to help specially targeted students and schools have become part of an unmanageable tangle of programs and dollars that are difficult to track and assess,” said Poochigian.
Senator Poochigian requested that the State Auditor focus on identifying all categorical programs and their statutory authority, evaluating the formulas used to develop how funds are allocated, identifying all the monies transferred for each categorical to each individual school district, and reviewing and assessing the State of California´s oversight of the categorical funding programs. Additionally, Senator Poochigian cited his own frustrations when state agencies and offices charged with program oversight and evaluation confirmed that there is a lack of sufficient data relative to billions of dollars in categorical spending.
Only after seven months and countless personnel-hours, the State Auditor was able to identify the 113 funing streams and compile a complete distribution list of categorical funding. This challenging effort demonstrates the need for an overhaul of the Department of Education´s accounting and oversight systems.
“Clearly this audit demonstrates the need for an annual financial assessment of education funding to facilitate the next step: correlating education funding to program effectiveness with the goal of maximizing student achievement.”
The report can be accessed at: bsa.ca.gov/bsa/