By Jane Meredith Adams
In his May budget revision, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday proposed a change that will allow school districts to more broadly define who is eligible for a free or reduced-price meal and, by association, who is identified as low-income and eligible to receive extra state education funds. The proposal would affect more than 1 million students who fall into a gray area of free lunch eligibility.
While the new Local Control Funding Formula requires school districts to count low-income students annually, and ties funding to the tally, Brown’s proposal would allow a subset of schools with large numbers of low-income students to count them only once every four years. Instead of individual student data, schools where more than 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals would be allowed to submit a group percentage of low-income students. The proposal would allow the schools to continue the system they have used for years, although it requires that districts be diligent about verifying student family income levels every four years.