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What Governor's Budget Means for OC Schools

A local superintendent helped Jerry Brown craft the plan that would change how education is financed in the state. He offers insights on how it would play out.

As school officials around Orange County try to figure out the local effects of Gov. Brown’s proposal to redistribute school funding, one superintendent has a pretty good idea how it would play out.

Marc Ecker, chief of the Fountain Valley School District, has been working with a small group of superintendents to advise the governor on the plan, which would be phased in over seven years and seeks to help the disadvantaged.

“We are attempting to close the achievement gap and move toward more equitable funding,” Ecker said of the plan, which also attempts to simplify matters.

Currently, schools are allotted a certain amount per student based on the number of days in school. On top of that, schools receive “categorical” funding which can only be spent in very specific ways. Gov. Brown, Ecker said, is looking to free districts from those restrictions while funneling additional money – 35 percent more than the base amount – to districts where 50 percent or more of the students are English learners or from low-income families.

So the plan, known as weighted student funding but dubbed "the local control funding formula" by Brown, is a “flat rate” for all students, a 35 percent bump for all poorer students and English learners and another 35 percent for districts where students in those groups make up 50 percent or more of the population.

“Research indicates that it is these students who we need to push toward proficiency and which involve more specific and costly educational programs,” Ecker said.

But what does it mean for districts that don’t have a majority of their students in these categories? Some officials are leery.

“There should be adequate funding for all students. We do not support any new formula that would take funds from one district to pay additional funds for specific populations to other districts,” said Sherry Kropp, superintendent at Los Alamitos Unified, especially because these students already receive additional funding.

“Increasing the difference in funding for different students is not adequate, nor does it support a quality education for all students,” she said.

Districts known as “basic aid” districts had heard rumors about the proposal, and officials were worried they may the biggest loser in the governor’s proposal.

“The unknown is a bit of a concern,” said Laguna Beach Unified’s spokesman Gerald Vlasic before Thursday’s press conference.

A basic aid district is situated in an area that generates enough property tax revenue that it doesn’t need to rely on the state financially. When a district meets that goal, it can keep any additional money above and beyond what the state gives other districts. (See this graphic from Irvine Unified, one of the three basic aid districts in Orange County, along with Laguna Beach and Newport-Mesa unifieds.)

After the press conference, they were breathing a little easier at Laguna Beach Unified.

“The definition of basic aid appears to be similar to the current definition. This is in line with the post-Prop. 30 intent not to hurt schools,” Vlasic said.

For the most part, finance gurus at Capistrano Unified are figuring they’ll end up for 2013-14 with pretty much what they had this year, which Superintendent Joseph Farley described Thursday at a forum as “limping along.”

“It looks good, but there are other shoes to drop,” Farley said, referencing the politicking that will take place between now and a final budget in June.

Officials at Saddleback Valley Unified are still analyzing the state budget.

“Gov. Brown's 2013-14 state budget is going to require a great deal of interpretation,” said Tammy Blakely, spokeswoman for SVUSD.

Brown actually proposed a similar idea last year, but it was taken off the table to be revamped. That’s the work Ecker’s committee has been doing.

“At the beginning of the process, there were many concerns for districts like ours,” Ecker said. With the changes, however, he sees less fodder for successful opposition.

“Governor Brown has a pretty good record of getting what he wants, and I suspect he will get this,” Ecker said.

DM January 15, 2013 at 04:31 AM
So American children will be punished and Mexican children will be rewarded!
JustUs January 15, 2013 at 04:39 AM
That's pretty much what it amounts to in a nutshell. You're much more succinct than I am. It's great to be an American, ain't it? Naturally all the lawmaker's kids go to private schools to avoid all the cost shifting and riff raff. If their kids were discriminated against because they spoke english in school the lawmakers would make a new law to ban all foreign languages in K-12.
Yeparoo January 15, 2013 at 06:45 AM
Mr Barrera, It's sorta like The Hotel California. Don't go there. You'll check in, but you'll never leave.
CDC January 15, 2013 at 07:01 AM
You sound like a racist bigot. Am I reading this right?
CDC January 15, 2013 at 07:23 AM
You are barking up the wrong tree. The poor are not the problem. They never were, but you WON'T hear it on this blog. Too many people on here have made it a career of scapegoating the poor. Some of the comments on here unbelievable! Many of these posters would have fit in perfectly in early 1940s Germany. The REASON 30 was passed is the cities, counties, and the state are totally broke paying the pensions to all the retired teachers/state workers. They are on the fat gravy train! That is the problem. The state is robbing Peter(Schools) to pay Paul(retired teachers). Get the hard facts - http://www.pensiontsunami.com
CDC January 15, 2013 at 07:45 AM
Hey JustUs, That Vietnamese example you keep on trying to sell us is getting real old. The truth is the Vietnamese boat people got over a billion dollars of U.S. help to settle here in the United States. That is 1970s dollars, it would be a LOT more in today's dollars. I wonder how all the illegals you scapegoat would do if they got that type of monetary help? I am guessing if you knew that the boat people got that money you would have wanted the navy to send them back to their country and death. Here is a history lesson for you - http://crfimmigrationed.org/index.php/lessons-for-teachers/147-hl8
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 03:53 PM
Are you saying that students do not buy their own pencils? Who do you think should pay for YOUR kids? Maybe if you thought about that before you had them you and others could quit whining. When I had my son I allowed for college and the natural expenses of raising him. That meant with my income stream I was only going to have one child. Pretty simple actually, no?
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 04:14 PM
jeff s Are you referring to this account in the L.A. Times????? A Navy destroyer stops four Mexicans in a row boat rowing towards California . The Captain gets on the loud-hailer and shouts, "Ahoy, small craft. Where are you headed?" One of the Mexicans puts down his oar, stands up, and shouts, "We are invading the United States of America !" The entire crew of the destroyer double over in laughter. When the Captain is finally able to catch his breath, he gets back on the loud-hailer and asks, "Just the four of you?" The same Mexican stands up again and shouts, "No, we're the last four. The rest are already there!"
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Not everybody is on the dole. Just 47%. If everybody was on the dole who would be paying for your kids education?
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 04:39 PM
Why so many teacher perverts lately? Doesn't help education! Well maybe sex education!!! "Operation Cardea" targeted people who use the Internet to sexually exploit children, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office said, and the suspects were arrested over the past week, including four men arrested late Sunday night. The list of those arrested includes two local school teachers and two other employees at local schools. Jorge Daniel Ferreira, a science teacher at Ocoee Middle School, was one of those arrested. Orange County Schools officials tell Fox 35 that Ferreira has been with the school district since 2002 and passed a Florida Department of Law Enforcement background check when he was hired. Also arrested were David Miller, a translator with Orange County Schools; Duncan St. Gelais, a teacher at New Smyrna Beach High School in Volusia County; and Anthony Wilks, a janitor with Seminole County Schools. Investigators posed online as teens or parents and had communications with the suspects. Several suspects sent photos of a sexual nature. Detectives say all 50 men traveled to a home in Seminole County thinking they were going to have sex with teens between the ages of 11 and 15. All suspects will be charged with traveling to meet a minor for sex and soliciting a minor for sex.
Lil Marty January 15, 2013 at 04:48 PM
What they need to do is DOUBLE TEACHERS SALARIES! Those teachers have to put up with all these lil brats all day long! Lil Marty Leisure World
JustUs January 15, 2013 at 04:52 PM
"I am guessing if you knew that the boat people got that money you would have wanted the navy to send them back to their country and death." We spend over $20B just in California on illegal migrants every single year for education, health care, welfare and incarcerations with basically no return on investment but more crime and dropout rates around 50%. At least with the Vietnamese boat people we got some return on investment. Look at the remarkable thriviing business community Little Saigon is today. Then look at Santa Ana and East LA. See the difference yet? The Vietnamese were society's great experiment showing that you can come to America dirt poor and become something with an effort to get educated and self-sufficient. Throwing money at the problem alone does NOTHING! It only wastes money that other more deserving kids could use. You need something to work with before you throw money at the problem. Today's illegals do not value education. And that is a FAIL from the start!
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 04:56 PM
That is funny Marty!!!!
fact checker January 15, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Sexual predators seek out jobs and places where they will find their victims. They also abuse their own children. What's your point?
fact checker January 15, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Mexican children are not all low achieving and not all low achieving children are Mexican.
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 05:21 PM
My point is that when I went to school in the 50's this never happened. Now it is sooo common that maybe it should be legalized like gay marriages. Obama could do his executive order thingy and we could use the money spent prosecuting the teachers to fund the poor kids in Africa with foreign aid money.
JustUs January 15, 2013 at 05:24 PM
fact checker, the point is obvious and valid. Many times the teacher's unions protect pedophiles who are in close contact with children in the classrooms. The story about the sexual predator teacher who was feeding his children 'semen cookies' is a perfect example. The guy had a history and the school know about it - yet protected him and left him inside the classroom. There are many other stories too, especially in California where the unions rule. Even the legislators refused to pass laws that would make it easier to fire teachers engaged in misconduct with the students. Why? Because they are bought and sold by the teacher's unions. Everyone knows that. It is common knowledge. There seems to be a large gap in your ability to collect information and make it stick. Write the facts down. It may make it easier!
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:42 PM
CDC, If you mean William Bonney, yep, you read it correctly.
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:50 PM
So every slow learner's parents are on public assistance? Prove it. You can't because it's an absolute statement. Your REAL solution is meaningless. It's just racist garbage. Here's a solution for you: cut the funding to red states. They tend to be at the bottom of the education pile anyway. So it's a complete waste of money. The racists in red states are so ignorant they are, well, monkeys. They have more unwed moms and more white people living on welfare or "collecting disability." If we cut the funding to all red states we wouldn't have any more debt. How about them apples, JustUs. Now move back to whatever backwater swamp you crawled out of and live in poverty with all the other morally bankrupt, soulless wastes of human flesh. I mean, move back home with mom and dad. Yeah that is probably more polite.
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Yo Bonney, Your hood and sheet are showing. Thought you'd want to know.
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:53 PM
You know what JustUs? Hitler said much the same thing in 1937.
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:55 PM
CDC, JustUs is the biggest racist idiot on here. Ignore him. He flaps his gums cause he be unemployed and living on the dole.
Dan Avery January 15, 2013 at 06:58 PM
47% are on the dole? Are you a total clod Bonney? Do you even know how that 47% breaks down? It includes retired seniors and active military serving abroad. Some American you are. You, sir, have no shame. Dissing our troops. I hope they find you, Bonney. The troops you just dissed. I hope they find you one night. Yep I do.
fact checker January 15, 2013 at 07:22 PM
William, it was happening when you were in school. It was just not talked about. It has always happened.
fact checker January 15, 2013 at 07:24 PM
JustUs, the teacher's union has never protected pedophiles. They do protect the rights of teachers to due process. It is possible to be falsely accused. It happens all the time.
fact checker January 15, 2013 at 07:25 PM
Your condescending ignorance is truly amusing JustUs...but also a little alarming.
Joker Joe January 15, 2013 at 08:49 PM
fact checker William, it was happening when you were in school. It was just not talked about. It has always happened. If it was not talked about how did you HEAR about it??????
JustUs January 15, 2013 at 09:33 PM
"JustUs, the teacher's union has never protected pedophiles. They do protect the rights of teachers to due process. It is possible to be falsely accused. It happens all the time." No. The teacher's unions make rules and legally bribe the lawmakers to make rules that protect pedophiles teaching in our schools. This has been proven time and time again. The 'semen cookie' teacher is proof positive. That was not the first time there was information that he was a pedophile. And even afterwards, the state legislators (democrats) killed a Bill in committee that would have made it easier to fire such teachers. So pedophilia in our schools is oddly condoned by our leaders as long as the payoffs are adequate. We all know that. Only those in denial refute it.
Alberto Barrera January 15, 2013 at 10:38 PM
Well, only partly, if I can really live comfortably on welfare I would do so to avoid paying income taxes.
sa949 January 15, 2013 at 11:56 PM
Lil Marty, you were probably a math teacher! Teachers don't' have the market cornered on "Putting up with" irritation. All business people do it everyday. However, most business people don't have 9 mos. work years, some of the best health insurance, ludicrous job security w/ tenure, ridiculous holiday, sick & personal days, 65%+ pensions for life, etc. It is time to Wake Up!!

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