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Education Funding Takeaways from California

By Daniel Zavala, Director of Policy and Government Relations

Daniel Zavala, League of Education Voters Director of Policy and Government RelationsTwo weeks ago, I went with a Washington delegation to Sacramento, the birthplace of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), California’s shift from state-controlled funding to local decision-making. Joined by fellow education advocates and stakeholders, including members of our state legislature, we met with members from California’s education community. This included staffers with government agencies, association members (e.g. California Teachers Association), and public advocates.

Our field trip was an exploration of the options available to our state in pursuing changes to our education funding system. California is just a few years into their model, and we got some great first-hand accounts of lessons learned and how they set up their system. However, the state is still grappling with exactly how they want to measure success, and districts are modifying their behavior based on their newfound spending freedom.

So what is the LCFF? The LCFF is a funding formula in California intended to provide resources more equitably to students with learning and socio-economic barriers, while providing greater flexibility to district leaders and school educators to serve and respond to their students’ needs.

California’s response to funding education fits squarely into three realms: the wild west of the 1960s and before, the Serrano* era of the 1970s where the state supreme court required equal funding of districts and wound up with over 40 restricted categorical funding areas leaving little flexibility in spending decisions, and the LCFF age that focuses on equitable funding based on student need. The shift from Serrano to the LCFF came after the Getting Down to Facts report highlighted issues and provided recommendations for a weighted funding model and shift to local control.

The LCFF operates under three funding streams: 1) a base grant that only varies based on the grade level band but is equal for all students across the state; 2) a supplemental grant of 20% more funding above the base grant for low-income, English-learners, and foster youth; and 3) a concentration grant of 50% more funding above the base grant for each student above a concentration threshold of 55% of students with high-needs (e.g. if a district has 60% economically disadvantaged students, then the 5% above that 55% threshold would generate the concentration grant increase). One important note is that special education funding is calculated and administered separately from the LCFF. Even without touching special education funding, this structure change resulted in a roughly $11B shift of resources toward students identified as high-need.

So now that districts have additional funds for students identified as high-need, what is the state doing to ensure fidelity of taxpayer money? In conjunction with the LCFF, districts compile a three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) with annual updates that outlines how the allocation of funds will address state defined priority areas including: 1) basic services, 2) implementation of state standards, 3) parent involvement, 4) student achievement, 5) student engagement, 6) school climate, 7) course access, and 8) other student outcomes. These plans are then evaluated based on a rubric with indicators focused on: 1) academics, 2) college and career readiness, 3) graduation rates, 4) English-learners, 5) chronic absenteeism, and 6) suspension rates. Where districts are not implementing plans with success, a regional California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) provides technical assistance and support. Where districts fail to improve** or implement recommendations from the CCEE, schools are referred to the State Superintendent of Instruction (SPI) for intervention.

Takeaways/Lessons Learned

I know that is a lot to take in, and even this overview doesn’t get into the granular details of the program. With some background knowledge about LCFF and its origin, it is also important to note the takeaways and guidance given to our Washington delegation. First, the state must track how dollars are being spent, and specifically, where dollars are being spent with academic success. When we are talking about fulfilling our Washington state constitutional requirement for ample funding of basic education, we have a right to know where those public funds are being spent. Second, LCFF was a huge culture shift for schools and districts in how they worked with budgets and funding. That shift has to be accompanied by capacity building so that districts can build expertise on how to use data to identify needs to drive spending decisions. After all, the additional money is only helpful when the spending decisions are informed and targeted. Third, to help build capacity, some of the additional funding needs to be spent on training. If our state wants to do this well, we need to make sure we actually focus on quality implementation and give our school leaders the skills to effectively shift their spending practices. Which leads me to the final takeaway: implementation has to be phased in, so that schools and districts have time and incentives to learn how to operate under a new structure without fear of reproach during that transition.

So what does this mean for Washington? I think the California example presents a good framework for us to learn and discuss what would work in Washington. The LCFF is what a diverse group of Californians decided their schools needed. Now we have to embark on a discussion with ALL education stakeholders to learn how we can create a system that works first and foremost for the benefit of our students. One thing is certain, the current system is serving only some of our students and schools well, but it is not serving ALL our students equitably.

Our trip to Sacramento sparked three thoughts that I will leave with you:

Should we focus our efforts on continued district-level budgeting control or school-based budgeting? For instance, there are roughly 600 schools in California with majority high-need student populations within districts that do not reach the concentration grant threshold.

How does an equitable funding system take into account regional cost differences, whether that is cost of living or hard-to-staff subjects and schools requiring additional funding for compensation?

Finally, how do we ensure that there is community-level engagement, understanding, and transparency in our funding system?

 

*Serrano v. Priest lawsuits and Proposition 13 (1971-1978)

**defined as districts that “fail to improve outcomes of 3 or more student subgroups in 1 or more priorities in 3 out of 4 school years.”

Watch our LEVinar on Education Funding Takeaways from California

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Education Advocate October 2016

ED Advocate, League of Education Voters Newsletter, October 2016

Greetings

Chris Korsmo
Chris Korsmo, CEO

Fall is definitely upon us. Our kids are back in school, the M’s season (sadly) is over, and football is well under way. It’s hard to believe that the election happens a short five weeks from today. I feel like the groundhog who has seen its shadow, ready to retreat into my Packers den until the political ads are finally over.

As I’m sure you know by now, one of the most important races in the election is for the next Superintendent of Public Instruction. LEV is all over it this month, co-sponsoring candidate forums with Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal October 5 in Woodinville, October 8 in Seattle, and October 11 in Spokane. See details and listen to podcast interviews with both candidates here.

Also, many of us don’t know what the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) actually does. Join us for a free Lunchtime LEVinar on October 27, where current state Superintendent Randy Dorn will answer your questions about OSPI’s roles and responsibilities. Register here.

LEV continues to roll out our vision of what we could accomplish in the McCleary education funding debate, which will be front and center in the 2017 legislative session. Dig into the topic of fair compensation for our teachers here.

Finally, I would like to extend a big thank-you to our donors in the third quarter of 2016. You make our work possible. Thanks for all you do for kids. We couldn’t do it without you.
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Chris Korsmo

October OSPI Candidate Forums

Washington state OSPI candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal LEV is co-hosting three candidate forums this month with Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Erin Jones and Chris Reykdal. See them October 5 in Woodinville, October 8 in Seattle, and October 11 in Spokane. See the complete schedule and listen to podcast interviews with both candidates. Read more

Learn OSPI’s Roles and Responsibilities

OSPI Roles and Responsibilities Lunchtime LEVinarRandy Dorn, our current state Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), will answer your questions about OSPI’s role and work, which levers OSPI has to make changes in education policy, and what the community should expect from OSPI. This free, 30-minute Lunchtime LEVinar will take place on Thursday, October 27 at 12:30 p.m. Register here

Teachers: The Most Important Part of Our Education System

How Teacher Compensation Plays Into the McCleary DebateLEV begins our discussion of redefining basic education with the most important part of our education system: our teachers. Research consistently shows that teachers have the strongest school-based impact on student performance, but that is not reflected in their current pay.

 

The Washington State Supreme Court is requiring the Legislature to increase the state contribution to teacher salary as part of its duty to fully fund education. As the state grapples with how to meet its McCleary obligations, we must continue to advocate for meaningful investments in education—which starts with investing in teachers. Read more

Celebrating our donors

Thank you!Donations are made to the League of Education Voters (LEV) and the LEV Foundation by individuals, groups, and businesses throughout the community. These generous donations from those who believe in high-quality public education allow us to ensure measurable progress toward LEV’s vision that every student in Washington state has access to an excellent public education that provides the opportunity for success.

We’d like to take a moment to celebrate our supporters who donated to LEV or the LEV Foundation between July 1 and September 30 of this year. Thank you!

Get Involved

COMING UP

October 5, 2016 | OSPI and 1st Legislative District Candidate Forum, Brightwater Center, Woodinville
October 8, 2016 | OSPI and Congressional District 7 & 9 Candidate Forum, Eritrean Association, Seattle
October 11, 2016 | OSPI Candidate Forum, The Lincoln Center, Spokane


LUNCHTIME LEVINARS

October 27, 2016 | OSPI’s Roles and Responsibilities, Online webinar


HELP SUPPORT THE LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS
| Donate online


League of Education Voters

League of Education Voters2734 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
206.728.6448
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McCleary Resources

Children standing in front of a chalkboard - League of Education VotersIn McCleary v. State of Washington, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that because the state government is not providing sufficient education funding, it is violating the state’s constitution. Further, the Court found that inadequate funding from the state is leading to inequalities and disparities between wealthy and poor school districts, because some districts are only able to raise a fraction of the money through local levies as other districts, despite having a higher local levy tax rate.

The Court has ordered the state to address this issue by increasing education funding and reducing reliance on local levies to pay for teacher salaries and other basic education essentials. Estimates say that complying with the Court’s decision will require the state to spend an additional 1.5 – 2 billion dollars more per year on public education.

2017 Legislative Scorecard

Resources that will help clarify the debate over education funding:

What You Need to Know about the 2017 McCleary School Funding Agreement (blog)

What You Need to Know about the 2017 McCleary School Funding Agreement (webinar)

McCleary Explained

Glossary of Key Education Terms

Definition of Basic Education

See how much Washington state spends per student in your district

Side-by-Side of Education Funding Proposals

Local Levy FAQ

LEV’s Perspective on the Latest Supreme Court McCleary Response

Our view on McCleary opportunities:

Rethinking Our Education System

Teachers: The Most Important Part of Our Education System

Every Student Needs an Effective Teacher

Great Teachers Need Great Preparation

Student Supports, an Integral Component of Basic Education

 

Presentations on education funding by the LEV Policy Team:

TVW: League of Education Voters McCleary Presentation (November 18, 2016)

  1. I Can See McClear-ly Now: A look at the education funding debate in Washington, gives you an in-depth look at how we got where we are today.
  2. We Can Work it Out: A long and winding road to funding basic education, covers whether our current education funding structure is fair and whether the system benefits all kids.

 

Other resources:

LEVinar on The McCleary Task Force: What to Expect Archived Recording | Presentation Slides

McCleary Education Funding Task Force Duties and Responsibilities

Senate Bill 6195, which created the Education Funding Task Force

Our view on NPR Education’s School Money series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

A summary of our November 2016 field trip to California, Education Funding Takeaways from California

Posted in: Funding

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Glossary of Key Education Terms

L01ARU5MZike most professions, the education landscape is full of acronyms and jargon.  As we gear up for the 2017 state legislative session which will focus on education funding, the LEV Policy Team has created this glossary of key terms you will likely hear:

  • Allocation: an amount of money determined by the state and given out to districts.
  • Basic Education: goals established by the Legislature for Washington’s education system, as well as a program to achieve those goals.  See details here
  • Biennium: a period of two years usually used for budgets.
  • Bond: a method used by a public school district to finance the purchase of land or buildings or pay for school construction costs (like getting a loan for a project). Bond measures are placed on the ballot by district school boards to be approved or defeated by the voting public and must be paid back by the local taxpayers. Bonds require a supermajority (2/3) of the vote to pass.
  • ELL (English language learner): a student whose primary language is a language other than English and who have English language skills that are sufficiently lacking or absent resulting in a delay of learning.
  • FRL (free and reduced lunch): a term used to describe students who qualify for participation in the federal school nutrition program that provides free or reduced price school lunches for students from low-income households.
  • Full-day kindergarten: state funded kindergarten that requires a total of 1000 instructional hours and 180 days of instruction.
  • HB: House Bill
  • Initiative: a law proposed by citizens and placed on the ballot in an election. This process bypasses the state legislature and allows citizens to pass laws.
  • Instructional hours: the number of hours districts are required to provide students. Instructional hours include all time in the school day from the beginning of the first period class to the end of the last period class, except for time spent on meals.
  • LAP (learning assistance program): a program to serve eligible students who need academic support for reading, writing, and math, or who need readiness skills to learn these core subjects. Money for the LAP program is provided by the state based on a district’s low-income students.
  • Levy cliff: a reduction, in current law, in the amount of money school districts can collect through local property tax levies that takes effect in January 2018.
  • Levy: a request by a school district of voters to raise or continue local property taxes for a limited number of years for operations costs or capital improvements such as computers or other equipment.
  • McCleary: The Washington State Supreme Court case which ruled that the State of Washington is violating the constitutional rights of students by failing to amply fund basic education. The Court ordered the Legislature to make “steady, real, and measurable” progress each year to fully fund K-12 public education by 2018.
  • MSOC (materials, supplies, and operating cost): the cost to a school district or education entity for materials and supplies used in the classroom (e.g.: white boards, pencils, and printer paper) and operating costs like building maintenance and utility bills.
  • National Board Certification: a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. National Board Certification has national standards for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do.
  • Professional Certification: an advanced level teaching certificate, issued to holders of a Residency Certification who complete a ProTeach Portfolio.
  • Prototypical school: a school design used in the state funding formula to determine the number of teachers, principals, and other school staff that are needed to provide a basic education. The size and staffing levels in a prototypical school differ for elementary, middle, and high schools. Districts are not required to staff their schools in the same way as the prototypical schools.
  • QEC (quality education council): created by the legislature in ESHB 2261. The purpose of the QEC was to develop strategic recommendations for implementation of a new definition of Basic Education and the financing necessary to support it. During the 2016 legislative session, HB 2360 eliminated the QEC.
  • Residency Certification: the initial license issued by the state for a teacher to be allowed to teach in a school. Teachers in Washington must attempt to earn the Professional Certificate after teaching for three years.
  • SB: Senate Bill
  • SPED (special education): specifically designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
  • Staff mix: a part of the state funding formula for schools used to capture the average teaching experience and education level of teachers in a district. Teachers’ salaries go up with each year of experience and level of education. Staff mix (a number between 1 and 1.9) is multiplied by a district’s base teacher salary to determine the salary amount the state provides for teachers.
  • TBIP (transitional bilingual instructional program): a state supported program that funds districts to provide a two-language system of instruction. Students learn language concepts and knowledge in their primary language at the same time they receive instruction in English.

Posted in: Legislative session

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Education Advocate June 2016

ED Advocate, League of Education Voters Newsletter, June 2016

Greetings

Chris Korsmo
Chris Korsmo, CEO

As yet another school year ends with blinding speed, work is heating up for team LEV.  The new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), replacing No Child Left Behind, gives states more leeway in a wide range of areas.  Our state is figuring out how to modify our accountability system and fully implement other parts of the law.  If you’re curious how ESSA will work here in Washington, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is holding forums around the state.  Get all the info here.

And speaking of the state Superintendent, watch for OSPI candidate forums from now until the November election.  LEV is keeping track of upcoming forums here.

Looking ahead, we’re taking a hard look at how to best fund our state education system as the McCleary debate will be front and center in the next Legislative session.  If you would like more info on what the McCleary Task Force is up to, check out our recent Lunchtime LEVinar on the topic here.

May you and your family enjoy a glorious summer.

Thank you, and thanks for all you do for kids.
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Chris Korsmo

ESSA Regional Community Forums

ESSA regional community forums are scheduled around the stateBeginning June 14, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is holding forums across the state to provide an overview of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) implementation in Washington. Each forum is open to the public and there is no registration required.

LEV’s Activist of the Month

Mary Fertakis is LEV's June 2016 Activist of the MonthThe work that we do to improve public education is only possible thanks to the support of our activists and advocates – the parents, community members, students, and teachers who stand up and speak up.

Congratulations to longtime Tukwila School Board Member Mary Fertakis, June 2016 Activist of the Month, who has spent more than two decades fighting for people who have been marginalized – denied opportunity by race, place of birth, or government. Read more

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Candidate Forums

OSPI candidate forums are happening now until the November electionCandidates who want to lead Washington’s school system as its next Superintendent will speak at forums around the state. Current OSPI candidates include: Robin Fleming, Ron Higgins, Erin Jones, Chris Reykdal and David Spring. Learn more

The McCleary Task Force: What to Expect

LEVinar: The McCleary Task ForceThe Washington Supreme Court is fining the Legislature $100,000 a day for not fully funding public education. During this year’s session in Olympia, the Legislature passed a bill that created a task force to determine how to end the state’s over-reliance on local levies to pay teacher salaries and other components on basic education. But will the Court be satisfied? Watch here

Get Involved

COMING UP

July 19 and 21 | Every Student Succeeds Act: What You Need to Know, Online webinar

HELP SUPPORT THE LEAGUE OF EDUCATION VOTERS FOUNDATION | Donate online


League of Education Voters

League of Education Voters2734 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109
206.728.6448
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