Under the Local Control Funding Formula, school dollars are divided into three broad tiers:
- Base grant: All of California’s roughly 950 school districts receive the same base allotments per student, depending on grade level.
- Supplemental grant: Districts with high-need student groups receive supplemental grants equal to 20 percent of each student’s base grant. All districts are eligible for these funds.
An essential part of California’s effort is a promise to undo recession-era cuts, including at schools that don’t have high concentrations of the three high-needs groups.
- Concentration grant: Districts where high-needs students exceed 55 percent of enrollment receive a grant equal to 50 percent of each student’s base grant. In the 2013-14 school year, 565 districts were eligible for these grants.
California’s system is modeled after what’s known as “weighted student funding,” popularized after its adoption by a Canadian school district in the late 1970s. The idea is to give schools with the largest numbers of needy students more money and also more autonomy over spending, in the hopes of reducing inequities and improving achievement. Similar formulas are used by a smattering of school districts across the U.S., including New York City, and a few states. New Jersey and Rhode Island follow versions of the system; Colorado and Illinois have considered the idea.
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