Are Lamorinda's Public Schools Shortchanged in Gov. Brown's New School Funding Proposal?

State officials released district-level details about a plan to give more money to poorer schools.

School officials in Lamorinda got a picture this week of what Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed new K-12 funding plan will mean for them. In January, Brown said that he wanted the state to give more money to schools with higher numbers of poor students and students learning English.

On Wednesday, the California Department of Finance released funding projections based on Brown’s idea. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown’s proposal may forge unusual political alliances as lawmakers in rural districts make common cause with colleagues from urban districts, and Democratic and Republican legislators from the suburbs marshal a united front in opposition to the unequal distribution of money.

Like everything else related to school funding, Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula is complicated, but it essentially awards more money to schools with more poor students, more foster youth, and more students who are still learning English. If the Legislature approves the plan, it would come to full fruition in the 2019-20 school year. No school district would get less than it received this school year.

District 2011-12 per student revenue

2019-20 per student revenue

% Increase

Acalnes Union HS $6,727 $9,159 36% Lafayette Elementary $5,925 $7,911 33.5% Martinez USD $6,756 $8,926 32% Moraga Elementary $5,932 $7,822 31% Mount Diablo USD $6,330 $9,472 50% Orinda Union  $5,753 $7,780 35% Walnut Creek Elementary $5,790 $8,164 41% West Contra Costa USD $6,575 $10,836 64%
Chris Nicholson February 21, 2013 at 08:21 PM
To all those who voted for Prop 30: See, I told you so. Another step/slide down the slippery slope of Robin Hood social policy. The primary policy driver for taxing and spending in this state has become redistribution of income/wealth and not equitable shared funding of common services or promotion of economic opportunity / growth. What is the stable end state of a system that allows below-median-income voters unilaterally extract ever more taxes from everyone else and direct services primarily to those who experience zero cost for additional benefits? Where do I sign up to get dollar bills for a quarter? Now, to add insult to injury, Brown essentially layers in "means testing" to essentially all taxpayer funded services. Not only do the people footing the entire bill get essentially none of the incremental benefits, but now the ex ante share of benefits is being attacked. I implore my lefty neighbors to please educate me on the state of repose we should expect if we fast forward a decade or so with more policies like this one. Finally, I find it sad and ironic that the "English learners," who are virtually all children of people not legally here, are getting an extra slug of money to further depress the resources available to children of citizens. Even before these proposed changed, if you "pro forma" Cal spending per pupil to adjust for the impact of spending on children of illegals, we are not at the bottom of the pile. We are right in the middle.
Regular Guy February 21, 2013 at 08:25 PM
I doubt that the tax increase would have passed if Brown had revealed that he planned to shortchange the same affluent school districts where these high-income taxpayers live. Not to worry. Democrats have tasked unelected boards at MTC and ABAG with ensuring that suburban towns each adding thousands of cheap apartments for students from less affluent and single-parent families. Then just maybe we'll get some funding to cover the extra school costs. But probably not. The general philosophy is to identify something desirable (e.g. suburban schools, suburban lifestyle, higher income), call it unfair, then work to destroy or diminish it. And we vote for this to prove how compassionate we are. We're getting what we deserve.
LamorindaMan February 21, 2013 at 08:55 PM
Why does any school district need a 30% increase in funding over an 8 year period?
LamorindaMan February 21, 2013 at 09:00 PM
Public education is a socialistic concept. People surprised or annoyed by this latest news have simply been ignoring the truth for years. The solution is quite simple.
c5 February 21, 2013 at 09:58 PM
I am not going to even touch some of the things mentioned above, although I am in agreement with a lot of them. The main problem I have with the robinhood philosophy of education funding is that I do not believe it has worked in the past, nor will it work in the future. By de-funding performing schools and funding lesser performing ones, the assumption is that the lack of money is the core of the problem. I do not believe that it is. What I believe we will end up with is poorer performance by suburban schools but no real improvement in the urban and rural schools. The other problem I have is that I believe the funding assumptions are crazy aggressive and are assuming growth in tax receipts that just won't be there. This doesn't impact the relative allocations, but the overall funding levels.
Kyle Mathews February 22, 2013 at 01:14 AM
I may be introducing some controversy here. I haven't lived in Lafayette for awhile now but I came up through the school system there. One thing I've noticed is that the district/boosters loved to cry poor. Every year there were new parcel taxes passed to "save" the AP Program at Acalanes. Every year there was another "vital" construction project that needed to be completed. All through high school we even paid for our own sports programs out of pocket. But how vital were those construction programs? Did Acalanes really need a new pool or a new field or a new theatre? Did the classrooms really need fancy new projector systems with twisty cameras? New computers every other year? Has anyone assessed some of the individuals who have tenure at those schools recently? Don't get me wrong. Lamorinda schools are superior to other California public schools. But there seems to be a difficulty with discerning "needs" from "wants". It was really only a matter of time before the state realized that the public schools in the wealthier areas were supporting massive building/renovation projects, teacher bonuses, etc. out of the parent's pockets while still getting a substantial amount of state money. I agree with c5 that the Robin Hood model looks better than it actually is. However, I think that it's time for the community to realize that this is probable going to happen and parents are going to need to reassess the district/booster's management of funds. Any thoughts on this?
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 01:24 AM
You raise interesting points, but direct giving for direct benefit to local kids is ALWAYS going to be better than sending taxes to Sacramento for redistribution according to politically motivated criteria. I like to bitch about inefficiencies in education, but when EFO calls, I give until it hurts. What I object to is when Group A imposes new retroactive taxes on Group B, by saying A & B both benefit, but only B can afford to pay. Then we find out that the net benefits accrue only to Group A. At least Robin Hood was honest up front about his intentions and objectives.
c5 February 22, 2013 at 03:55 AM
Chris, I thought you would have liked my Robin hood analogy... :(
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 05:25 AM
@LamorindaMan: Giving to EFO is a way to VOLUNTARILY direct pre-tax dollars to my kids' schools. I want to do my part to enrich their education. In my mind, there is a WORLD of difference between voluntary direct giving versus government confiscation / redistribution. I am happy to help, but would object if you tried to force me fund your kids' schools' "extras." So I 100% agree that I should pay for my kids and not you.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:25 AM
Why in the world do you give to EFO "until it hurts"? I thought these organizations demanded a set amount. You give more than that? Why? But, then again, as a parent, you should be funding the schools and not me.
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 05:34 AM
You changed your post as I was replying. I give more than the recommended amount because I can and it (despite hurting) feels good-- and I know that many parents can't/don't give. It's called charity. Check it out. Much better than taxes. On the one hand, the math says many parents free ride by paying less than the per student giving. On the other hand, that's just life and I'm OK with a kid being included in Art class even if their parents are deadbeats. As a Machiavellian aside, if the "extras" were "pay to play" on a per-student basis, the funding would not be tax deductible.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:35 AM
ChrisNicholson - So I should fund your kids' necessities and you only give me a pass on paying for their "extras"? Why should I fund your kids' basics? We made the conscious decision not to have kids. Why should I be penalized and required to fund your child's education even if it is the "basics" and not the "extras"? Everyone should pay their own way in this society. It seems fair to expect parents and parents alone to fund schools. Is this not what happens at private schools? Those parents pay the cost to educate their children. Why shouldn't everyone do likewise?
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:41 AM
If your neighbor lives in a $3million dollar house and you live in a $1million dollar house, does your neighbor's kid get a better education than yours? Why does he have to pay more for the same education? How schools are funded in this country is completely broken so I refuse to shed any tears because of this Brown absurdity that has simply broken the funding model even more. I remain totally flabbergasted that the local schools will receive a 30% increase in 8 years and yet won't be able to provide an adequate education when coupled with the various EFO efforts. I can only hope my salary increases 30% over the next 8 years.
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 05:44 AM
Firstly, I assure you that I am more than paying for my kids' basics and that you are not subsidizing me. As a general matter, if the tax system is reasonably fair (becoming counter-factual) and most people have kids, I think the positive externalities of having a common, compulsory universal/free public education is good social policy for lots of reasons (many self evident). Vouchers would improve the system, but I would still rather live in a world where no one decides to not send their kids to school because they can't afford it. I'm cool with this socialist solution. In my ideal world, I could be OK without public education, but to get the incentives right, you'd need to go for whole hog libertarianism, remove ALL social safety nets and let unproductive people starve to death, etc. In today's real world, when uneducated and unskilled people are wards of the state cradle to grave, the state should control its burden via compulsory free education....
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:46 AM
You are to be commended for your socialistic charity efforts. However, I remain convinced that since you're a parent and I'm not that you should be bearing the cost of educating your children, not me. I'm not totally hard hearted to your plight as a parent and am willing to pay a small fee towards the socialistic notion of education but I should be contributing far less than parents.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:48 AM
In essence, just as Gov. Brown does, you find it quite convenient to play social policy with my money. How noble of you.
Chris Nicholson February 22, 2013 at 05:50 AM
[ (1.30 ^ (1/8)) - 1] = ~3.3% escalator (basically COLA / inflation). I agre that the cost of education is too high and it historically has growth MUCH faster than inflation, almost entirely attributable to dramatic increases in inflation adjusted all-in comp for teachers, without any measurable improvement in outcomes.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:57 AM
While I will never be foolish enough to have children, I would agree that parents in our area have every right to be upset about Brown's funding plan and I cheer them from the sidelines as they oppose this massive wealth redistribution. However, as a taxpayer who doesn't have children but is held hostage by the tyranny of a government that demands I pay for schools, I want to know exactly why a 30% increase in 8 years is necessary. I'm stunned that parents don't have the same question, really.
Informed Citizen February 22, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Only the naive could believe that Sacramento Progressives just figured out that successful upscale communities aggressively fund their public schools by local property taxes and endless fundraisers. (Lafayette has 10 separate school property tax line items on owners' bills, among them the Acalanes HS tax - the first in the State to auto-hike and NEVER expire!). The State pushed voters to lower Constitutional voting margins down from 2/3 to 55% for schools. It worked so well that now Brown has his puppet Assembly passing Bills to lower voting margins to 55% for Police, Fire, Infrastructure/Roads. In a low-information society, record numbers of citizens renting, and a complicit Media, our property tax bills won't need Saturday USPS delivery -- they'll need to be carried by UPS! The more we tax ourselves locally (with the emotional parents buying into feel-good slogans like "stable sources of funding" -- sure our homes will always be stable sources of funding!) the more the Statists/Progressives will choke back state funding. We know know bounds of self-punishment. Moragans even passed the highest sales tax rate in the U.S. based on a pitch of no funds for road repair -- while every day driving right by a $250,000 parking lot project for a skateboard pit frequented mostly by out of town kids. Half the new tax isn't even earmarked for roads! Besides, Moonbeam's funding "projections" are 6 years out. What happened to 1/2 Bay Bridge re-do costs after 6 years?
lovelafayette February 22, 2013 at 04:40 PM
@ Lamorinda man. So ALL of your education and that of your entire family ( I get that you have no kids but you probably have parents, sibs...) was in for-profit, private schools that recieved no tax $?
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 04:58 PM
My parents went to a rural school that was funded by the parents and it stopped at 9th grade. I have no siblings that survived long enough to attend school. One sibling died in childbirth and the other died at age 4. I attended a private school that was funded by parents. My mother worked in a sewing plant and my father worked in a steel mill. They also paid for a private college, too. I hope this answers your questions.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 05:05 PM
I do cheer on the parents in their fight against this new funding formula. However, I do not wish to keep the status quo when it comes to funding. I would like to see the entire funding scheme for public schools changed. Public schools can keep the money they currently get and can have this 30% increase. I simply want parents shouldering the majority of the burden. Nonparents can shoulder a portion of the burden but it should be considerably smaller than the portion shouldered by parents.
Eastofthehills February 22, 2013 at 05:38 PM
I can say I voted against these tax hikes. Our schools always get screwed by Sacramento; I would rather have seen a local parcel tax that made sure the money we paid went into our community. This area already carries too much of the financial burden for Sacramento's failed social polices. Somehow we currently manage to get less funding per student compared to other districts. If anything what that should have told us is that giving more money to Jerry was only going to further amplify that. If you get back 50 cents on each dollar you send why the heck would you want to send more? Of course if any of you guys who voted for these give aways are still feeling generous I'd be happy to take you money and give you back 50 cents on the dollar.
c5 February 22, 2013 at 05:52 PM
East...not to worry, you are certain to see more parcel taxes anyway.
LamorindaMan February 22, 2013 at 06:22 PM
So you favor parcel taxes?
Eastofthehills February 22, 2013 at 09:03 PM
I prefer them over other taxes; however I'm going to vote against them since we already passed the Jerry tax.
TMoraga February 22, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Lamorindaman I get what your saying. Though I see it this way - your home value is what it is because people with kids are willing to pay the price to purchase your home at a high cost FOR THE SCHOOLS. So what your saying is that you think your property value should be maintained by others and not your self?
TMoraga February 22, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Parcel taxes are the Anti CA GOV way for locals to keep their money local. I've been saying this for years now. A flat parcel fee used for road maint - a flat parcel fee used for school funding is money the STATE CANNOT TAKE and Give to someone else. The people who are against these Parcel taxes are the same people who brag about what they could sell their home for today and how they have lived here for 25-30-40yrs and more or less paid nothing in local taxes to start with. These same people are the one's who really like the sales tax band aid passed recently. Given a high percentage of these same people own second properties in locations with lower sales tax. Meaning they can easily avoid paying it. They can't avoid paying a flat parcel tax. Yet they love the benefits they get from the fantastic schools = high home value.
Eastofthehills February 23, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Because all the libtards in this area fell for Jerry's speel I would say until that tax is gone I'm not going to vote for any new taxes parcel or otherwise. The schools had their chance let them suffer they backed Jerry. I've only got some much I'm willing to give; locals supported a measure that takes 100% of their local dollars and gives back less than 100% (my guess is we'll get back 50%); if the schools need more money after this let them make it up with cuts to their budgets.


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