LAUSD approves settlement concerning targeted funds
- A new settlement approved by the Los Angeles Unified School District board will direct as much as $450 million for low-income students, English learners and foster students, ending a lawsuit filed by a non-profit that alleged the district had misspent money originally allocated for that purpose, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- The district receives more than $1 billion in additional funding meant to target those specific groups each year, but the district earlier had allocated as much as $450 million of that total for general use, asserting that schools already spend that amount on special needs students.
- Community Coalition filed a suit claiming this logic was faulty, saying the state had specifically allocated this funding for high-needs students, and California’s education department demanded in 2016 that the district explain the funding. Further details of the recent settlement between Community Coalition and the district should be explained in the coming week.
State funding like the $1 billion allocated by the California Department of Education can sometimes help to alleviate deficiencies in revenue caused by disparities in local property tax revenue, which can make up much of the funding for schools and districts. Some districts must depend more on robust state investment than local taxes, because an affluent tax base may not necessarily be present in the district. However, some recent research has indicated that increases in funding alone may not lead to more positive student outcomes. Several schools in Baltimore did not record a single student scoring proficient in math or reading last year, despite the fact that the city’s school district has one of the highest per-student funding ratios in the country.
While it is important for district leaders to fight for their proper appropriation of local, state or federal spending, they must be judicious for how it is spent within districts. Funding alone is not assuredly a balm to low levels of student achievement. The Every Student Succeeds Act will offer some elucidation on how individual schools in each district are funded, which will help school and district leaders to attain data on whether and how their districts are not being equitably funded. However, such data will take time to accrue.
In the meantime, district leaders can push for incorporating new programs into impoverished schools, as Los Angeles did last year, by bringing a mini-magnet medical program into a facility. Funds specifically allocated for vulnerable students could be used to improve the schools in which they learn, and an ancillary byproduct could be that families that would otherwise consider private or charter school education may reconsider their district option.