School funding change left in revised budget

Brown plan would benefit the district

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comMay 16, 2013 

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to change the formula for funding schools has survived the May revise, making it likely the Los Banos Unified School District will receive more money.

In January, Brown unveiled a plan to provide differing amounts of money for kindergarten through third grade than for fourth through sixth grade and ninth through 12th. He also wants to fund districts based on the number of students learning English as a second language and the number receiving free or reduced lunch.

This week Brown's plan was left in his revised budget proposal. The state Legislature has until June 15 to pass a budget.

"I think we will have a new funding method, I don't know if it will be the governor's proposal or a version of it," Superintendent Steve Tietjen said.

He said Brown's proposal would mean more money for Los Banos Unified, not because of the number of English learners (30 percent of the student body), but as a result of the 75 percent of students in the district who are on free or reduced lunch.

Tietjen said the problem is the likelihood the district will have to produce a budget before the state passes one. California frequently passes budgets past deadline.

"We'll have to put together a worse-case-scenario budget," Tietjen said "We'll have to assume there is no new funding."

He said he and other district officials know there will be new funding no matter what happens, but the district can only deal with the circumstances with which it is presented at the time the district budget is up for approval.

Tietjen said he is pleased that Brown's May revise included $1 billion for implementation of Common Core standards. The money can be used for staff development, technology and instructional materials (textbooks).

Common Core aims to unify educational experiences across the nation so comparisons in education levels can be made more accurately and students are prepared for the "real world."

Instead of multiple choice close-ended test questions, students will be asked to reference material in essay form in a way that integrates several disciplines under the new system. Also, testing will be computer adaptive. That means that as students get questions correct, the queries become more difficult; if there is an uptick in wrong answers, the tests becomes easier.

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