SLO County unequal in student funding
June 3, 2011
State lawmakers have struggled for decades to bring equality to how school districts are funded, yet some San Luis Obispo County school districts receive thousands more per student than others, according to California Watch analysis. And the data shows spending more provides no assurance of academic success. [CaliforniaWatch]
In 2010, California schools districts with at least 500 students spent an average of $8,452 to educate each student, a figure that includes money from local, state, and federal sources, including one-time stimulus funds, the study said.
More money, however, does not necessarily translate into better learning. California Watch’s analysis shows there is no substantial correlation between how much a school district spends and its Academic Performance Index (API), which is based on student test scores and other academic measures.
The Templeton Unified School District , for example, spent less than half of what the Coast Unified School District spent per student last year. Yet its API score was 848, compared with Coast Unified’s 785 API.
The spending per student and average API scores for San Luis Obispo County school districts in 2010:
Atascadero School District $7,135 – API 804
Cayucos District $10,493 – API Score 896
Coast Unified District $13,775 – API Score 785
Lucia Mar Unified $7,406 – API Score 815
Paso Robles Joint Unified $7,843 – API Score 786
Pleasant Valley Joint Union Elementary $9,010 – API Score 806
San Luis Coastal Unified $8,234 – API Score 830
San Miguel Joint Union Elementary School District $7,629 – API Score 754
Shandon Joint Unified $8,234 – API Score 755
Templeton Unified School District $6,903 – API Score 848
Some smaller districts spent much more. For example, the Pacific Unified School District on a remote stretch of the California coast near Hearst Castle, spent close to $60,000 per student, the report said.
Public schools consume the largest share of the state’s shrinking general fund – 42 percent of the $86 billion total. How those funds are allocated is coming under increasing scrutiny by education leaders, advocacy groups, school districts and lawmakers, California Watch said.
In April, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, chairwoman of the Assembly Education Committee, introduced education finance reform legislation.
“We talk a lot about the achievement gap, but there is also a parallel financial gap,” Brownley said to California watch. Unless the system is reformed, we will continue to have this disparity and this divide.”