The state uses a complex system to fund public schools, requiring that each district receives a minimum level of funding. Property taxes help to support the schools, but if these taxes do not provide enough money, the state funds the remainder by providing a direct payment per pupil.
Mountain View Whisman chief financial officer Craig Goldman uses the common "bucket" analogy to explain funding. If property taxes fill the bucket, the district is basic aid, and gets to keep the surplus. But if property taxes do not fill the bucket, the district is a revenue-limit district, meaning the state adds enough money to fill up the bucket.
Until recently, the Mountain View Whisman School District was a revenue limit district, meaning it received the majority of its funding from the state. But the district found out this spring that it will became a basic aid district, and should be officially certified in July.
The state, facing a big deficit, is cutting back the amount of funding required to become a basic aid district. Mountain View Whisman property taxes meet this smaller requirement.
"The amount of money the state is allocating," Goldman said, "is projected to be less than the amount of property tax we will be collecting this year."
The Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos High School District are both basic aid. Since Mountain View Whisman was a revenue limit district, it previously took bigger hits during budget cuts, since the state targeted many of its reductions at revenue limit districts and cut back the amount of money it provided per pupil.
Now Mountain View Whisman administrators say the change in funding systems could protect them from some hits as the state continues to slash schools to balance its budget.