FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New study finds that LAUSD has shifted towards more equitable spending for high-need students, but improvements still need to be made to Local Control Funding Formula
LOS ANGELES, September 17th 2015 – Two years ago, Governor Jerry Brown drastically changed the way California schools receive state funding for high-need students. The new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) recognized that students in foster care, English-Language Learners and those living in poverty, required additional funds. The passing of LCFF represented a historic opportunity in the state of California to improve the public education system for the highest-needs students.
“After years of inequitable funding, LCFF gave us an immense sense of hope that our highest need students would have the resources needed to meaningfully engage in their education. Along with our parent and student leaders on the Eastside, we were ready to support LAUSD in investing these additional dollars in a community that has long dealt with inadequate public investments,” said Maria Brenes, Executive Director, InnerCity Struggle.
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations that is dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents.
During the 2014-2015 school year, LCFF generated $820 million of new funds. In this current school year, LCFF will generate close to $1.1 billion additional funds. CLASS published its first LCFF Community Report Card to analyze and report on how LAUSD actually invested the additional $820 million of LCFF funding during the 2014-2015 school year. The report card can be downloaded here: http://bit.ly/LCFFReportCard.
The report finds that LAUSD has taken valuable steps in holding true to the spirit of LCFF, but the researchers found a lack of an effective strategy to improve the outcomes of high-needs students. Investments such as instructional aides for English Learners, the funding of new programs dedicated to aiding children in foster care, and dedicated funding for restorative justice programs are examples of direct investments that provide new or enhanced services for the students prioritized by LCFF.
The report’s other finding was that LAUSD could have done a better job investing LCFF funds to support high-poverty students and responding to community demands for targeted, equitable investments. Specifically, the report found that:
- Only 18% ($145 million) of the LCFF’s $820 million additional funding was set aside for specific investment in high needs students. This $145 million represents only 3% of the overall LAUSD budget for the 2014-2015 school year– $6.4 billion dollars.
- The District prioritized re-staffing positions cut during the recession, rather than positions benefitting high-needs students.
- Principals, teachers, parents, and students remain unclear about the intention of LCFF dollars.
“For the last two years, I have fought for the District to keep the promise of LCFF—we collected thousands of petitions in support of the Equity is Justice Resolution, and we won. I am glad they applied it to some of the funding, but I want to see it applied to all of the dollars that myself and other high-needs students brought in,” said Jathan Melendez, student at Manual Arts High School.
Although the report highlighted some incremental progress that has been made by LAUSD, community groups are calling upon the District to focus funding on closing the access and opportunity gaps that English Learners, students living in poverty, and those in the child welfare system have persistently faced in this district, specifically that District leadership consider:
- That the $1.1 billion dollars that high-needs students generate for the coming year go to directly support those students;
- That this direct support is distributed to schools through a formula (known as the Student Needs Index) that takes into account the number of high-needs students at each school site and their rates of academic success; and
- Train principals and administrators to use their flexible LCFF dollars strategically; understand expectations on amount and use of all LCFF funds; and proactively engages parents, students, and teachers in the decision-making process.
“We are committed to working with LAUSD to ensure the dollars that high-needs students generate are invested back into their education. Governor Brown’s measure was intended to create pathways out of poverty for our high-needs students, and we are working with our partners throughout the District and community to make sure that happens,” said Elise Buik, President & CEO, United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
The report was commissioned by CLASS and conducted by the University of California, Berkeley and funded by the California Endowment, California Community Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
About Communities for Los Angeles Student Success
Communities for Los Angeles Student Success (CLASS) is a coalition of parent, student, educator, community-based and civil rights organizations that, since its inception, is dedicated to ensuring all students in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) receive an equitable, high-quality public education. The coalition, through its ten core organizations including United Way of Greater Los Angeles and over 60 network partners, represents over 150,000 constituents. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org/our-work/education/policy-advocacy/class/
About United Way of Greater Los Angeles
United Way of Greater Los Angeles is a nonprofit organization that creates pathways out of poverty by helping homeless people move into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school prepared for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change. For more information, visit www.unitedwayla.org.