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Brown Signs Historic School Funding Legislation

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Governor Jerry Brown signed historic school funding legislation on Monday that will direct increased resources to the state’s neediest students and restore local control over how money is spent on schools.

Brown was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

“Today, I’m signing a bill that is truly revolutionary,” said Governor Brown. “We are bringing government closer to the people, to the classroom where real decisions are made and directing the money where the need and the challenge is greatest. This is a good day for California, it’s a good day for school kids and it’s a good day for our future.”

At a signing ceremony at Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles, the Governor was joined by legislative, education, business and civil rights leaders, including Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. Governor Brown also appeared later in the day at California Middle School in Sacramento with Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

“Our disadvantaged students deserve more resources to overcome the extra obstacles they face, and this formula does just that. At the same time, we’re investing more resources in all of our students, and building on proven programs of career technical education and partnership academies to keep our students engaged and give them better preparation for college and careers,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “This dramatic shift in funding allows our schools to target investment where it’s needed most. By empowering our students for success, we pave the way for a stronger California.”

The legislation – called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) – replaces California’s overly complex, inefficient and inequitable finance system for K-12 schools. Under the legislation, districts will receive a per-pupil base grant, a supplemental grant based upon the number of students who are English learners, students from low-income families and foster youth and a concentration grant for districts with over 55 percent of this targeted population.

Under the 2013-14 budget, which Governor Brown signed into law last week, all schools will receive a significant increase in funds, with the neediest students and districts receiving enhanced aid under the legislation. The budget includes $2.1 billion for first-year implementation of these reforms.

When fully implemented over an eight year phase in, it is projected that the formula will spend 84 cents of each dollar on base grants for every district, 10 cents in supplemental funding for every English learner, student from a low income family or foster child in a district and 6 cents for those districts that have a particularly high concentration of these students. While the concentration funds represent only a small portion of the total dollars, they are critically important to those districts with the greatest challenges.

By shifting funds from “categorical” grants – money tied to complex state mandates that limit how schools can use the funds – to the new per-pupil base, supplemental and concentration grants, the legislation increases local control while enhancing transparency and accountability. Each school district, charter school and county office of education will produce a local control and accountability plan that will set annual goals and describe how the local agency would use available resources.

In addition to LCFF, the Governor also signed legislation establishing a Middle Class Scholarship program to make college more affordable for middle-income Californians. Under the new program, resident students whose families earn between $100,000 and $150,000 will be eligible for reduced fees at the University of California and California State University. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, eligible students could see mandatory systemwide tuition reduced by up to 40 percent under the new program in combination with other sources of aid.

“This is a great victory for higher education and middle class families in California, and a huge first step in keeping college affordable,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who authored the bill. “For the past 10 years, the middle class has been increasingly squeezed out of our public universities because of skyrocketing tuition rates, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades. This legislation will ensure that California maintains a healthy middle class and an educated workforce to keep our economy strong.”

The Governor signed the following bills:

• AB 86 by the Committee on Budget – Education finance: education omnibus trailer bill.
• AB 94 by the Committee on Budget – Education finance: higher education.
• AB 97 by the Committee on Budget – School finance.
• SB 91 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – School finance.

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.