Originally posted at 9:34 p.m. Oct. 23, 2013.
Capistrano Unified trustees got a preview Wednesday night of their financial future under the state’s new funding model – and it means a possible $15 million budget shortfall for next school year.
The state’s new method, called the “local control funding formula,” provides the same amount for every student across the state, said Clark Hampton, deputy superintendent of business services. But additional money is available for students who are either:
- Are eligible for reduced lunches
- English learners
- Foster children
On top of that money, districts that have student populations with more than 55 percent of these same demographics get even more money in so-called concentration grants. At Capo, nearly 26 percent of students fall within those categories, not enough to get the concentration grants.
The numbers add up, Hampton said. The difference between districts with few eligible students and districts which serve the neediest of populations could be thousands of dollars per student, according to a slide in a presentation Hampton made.
But, like previous years, the district won’t know how much money it will have to budget for next year until much closer to the June 30, 2014 deadline, Hampton said.
“This is kind of flying the plane and rebuilding it at the same time,” he said.
The state’s Department of Finance offers a much rosier picture of the future, Hampton said, and if it were to be believed, CUSD would only have a $2 million shortfall next year, and a $5 million surplus in 2015-16.
However, a consulting firm that advises school districts has encouraged districts to assume much more conservative numbers, Hampton said. That means the $15 million hole next year and a $16.5 million shortfall in 2015-16.
In the end, the amount the district receives is “whatever the state decides it can afford to provide schools,” Hampton said.
Because the new funding formula allows district much greater flexibility in how it spends the money, the state is requiring each school district to come up with a three-year plan as part of the budgeting process. District administrators will come up with a plan that will include ways to involve the community and present it to the school board in November.