http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2008/05/09/lasd-gets-a-break-on-funding


Mountain View Voice

News - May 9, 2008

LASD gets a break on funding

by Casey Weiss

The Los Altos School District will defray about $700,000 in the expected state education cuts by qualifying for a new financing method.

Many districts in the state receive direct payment of about $5,500 per pupil, a method that has applied to Los Altos in recent years. But this year, due to the expected state cuts in education funding, the district qualified for "basic aid," meaning it receives most of its funding from local property taxes.

Under the direct funding plan, called "revenue limit," the district expected to lose close to $1.5 million after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released his budget proposal. But with basic aid, the district now faces a less severe deficit of $800,000 for the upcoming school year.

"If we didn't have this, we would have close to a $1 million deficit," said Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent of business services. "This is really going to help."

Kenyon uses the common "bucket" analogy to explain funding. If property taxes fill the bucket, he says, the district is basic aid, and gets to keep the surplus. But if property taxes do not fill the bucket, the district receives revenue limit funding — meaning the state adds enough money to fill up the bucket.

Los Altos has been on the borderline recently, switching back and forth from a revenue limit to a basic aid district. Last year the district received direct state funding, meaning its property taxes did not meet the minimum amount of funding the state guarantees per student, i.e. fill the bucket.

The governor's latest proposal cuts the minimum funding for each student, but LASD's growing property taxes exceed this new minimum amount, meaning it does not have to rely on the state for general funding.

"When he shrank the budget he pushed us back into basic aid," Kenyon said.

E-mail Casey Weiss at cweiss@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by SchoolWonk, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 13, 2008 at 12:30 pm

This story illustrates yet another reason that Basic Aid should be eliminated as a funding model for California schools.

Under Basic Aid, all of the property taxes in the Los Altos School district (read: parts of Mtn View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills) will not go to the general fund for equitable division among all schools, but stay in the district.

There is now a smaller pie to divide among the Revenue Limit school districts, meaning a greater deficit for those schools. Kids in LASD, many of whom already have many advantages in life now have another-- better funded schools than the other 95% of the state districts.

Why shouldn't residents of a school district only contribute taxes to their own district? Because they live in the state as a whole. Good schools are not only important as a method of maintaining home prices in your neighborhood. Every person educated in California needs good education- how frustrating is it when a cashier can't make proper change. How much violence, unemployment and homelessness is attributable to the absence of a good basic education? We don't only live in our neighborhoods with our country club schools- we interact on a daily basis with families and kids who deserve well maintained, fully staffed schools too.