More money for schools is expected

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJune 8, 2013 

The Los Banos Unified School District knows it will have more money next fiscal year, but it's a guessing game as to how much more.

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to change the formula for funding schools survived the May revise, but until the state legislature passes the budget, the final formula for school dollars remains uncertain.

Last week, Los Banos Unified School District officials proposed a 2013-14 budget based on the information that's available.

"By June 30 we have to adopt our budget, often before the state adopts their budget," said Dean Bubar, assistant superintendent.

The district is projecting it will have $69.2 million in revenue and $71.6 million in expenditures. Despite a $2.3 million deficit that will be created, the district is projected to finish in positive territory because of its beginning balance of $12.2 million.

Because of the November passage of Proposition 30, which was designed to generate about $6 billion per year for schools, colleges and state services, California's schools are anticipating additional revenue.

Also the governor plans 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.

Superintendent Steve Tietjen 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. But first the Legislature has to pass the plan as part of the state budget.

"It's a significant change from what we're looking at," Bubar said.

If Brown's plan is approved school district funding will return to the 2007-08 fiscal year level, which saw districts receive the highest level of revenue on record. However, it is expected to take until 2020 to get to the 2007-08 funding level because of money deferrals to schools that have accumulated in the past five years as the state tried to pay down its deficit.

The district may also recieve another pool of money to help it implement Common Core, a new teaching and testing method that intertwines several disciplines. In 2010 California became one of 45 states poised to implement Common Core State Standards.

The switch to Common Core is scheduled in the 2014-15 school year and Brown has proposed $1 billion for its implementation.

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