By Jonathan KaplanThe proposed state budget that Governor Brown released in January calls for a significant increase in support ($2.9 billion) to fully implement California’s main system for funding K-12 education, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), in 2018-19. Reaching this milestone would be a notable accomplishment, especially as it would come two years earlier than initially estimated when the Legislature enacted the LCFF in 2013. Achieving this LCFF funding goal was never intended to mean that an adequate level of financial support needed to deliver a quality education for California’s K-12 students had been provided. However, reaching LCFF full implementation does reflect nearly $20 billion of increased funding for the state’s K-12 schools over the past six years.
Moreover, because the LCFF allocates additional funds to school districts based on their number of disadvantaged students — English learners, foster youth, and students from low-income families — increasing funding for the LCFF means more dollars are being provided to improve educational equity. Advancing equity may also be the goal of recent calls — from some state policymakers and others — to boost LCFF funding further, but exactly how such a boost is provided could unintentionally undermine this goal. To understand why, it is necessary to take a closer look at how the LCFF works and what full implementation really means.