California public schools struggle with funding


Swanstrom visiting Washington to show how desperate rural towns are for school funding. Kent Nishimura

Sienna Miller | Writer

February 24, 2023

Public School funding has been a controversial subject especially as people start to recognize the obvious underpayment of educators. 

Annmarie Swanstrom, principal of a school in the Mountain Valley district, demands that congress must renew the Secure Rural Schools Act. If she doesn’t receive the renewal, she will be forced to lay teachers off. On February 7th, Swanstrom marched over to Washington to let them know how real her concerns are. There has yet to be any sort of action, however, she still felt the trip was necessary and effective.

Rural areas are often looked for California school funding. Not to mention, they are becoming rarer and rarer, as more big cities are being constructed. In addition, as of December, they rank very high for wildfire hazards. These small towns are struggling to hold on as it is, and now they are faced with an educational financial crisis. 

Although it is important to talk about small-town funding, it is also just as significant to address California’s overall public school financial problem. In Biden’s State of the Union speech, he said that “teachers need a raise”. This is due to both the severe lack of funding and extremely small compensation that staff/teachers recessive for all their hard work.

LCAP planning chart

California Governor Gavin Newsom has also made it clear that he believes the current Control Funding Formula we have in place doesn’t narrow achievement gaps and isn’t a good way to determine what needs to be funded in schools. The Local Control and Accountability Plan or the LCAP was put in motion to fix this issue. It had been fully implemented in the 2022 school year, although it was first established in 2013.

The LCAP simply just refers to the below-average score students. Each district will be responsible for moving in the direction of progress with these students by strategizing with both parents while also addressing any staff issues/training programs. They would do this by spending their funding on things that they actually need to help students get a better education. Schools that don’t progress, will be forced to make some sort of change to their LCAP, and spend their funding elsewhere. 

Newsom is also making “equality leads” which are organizations to aid the less wealthy schools. 

He specifically wants to raise Black student achievement levels. Because he is restricted from affirmative action in public schools, in order to do so, he is funding 300 million dollars to California’s poorest schools. This will also improve equality because the poorer public schools will now have access to enough money to create programs to help ALL student groups academically. 

However, some critics have indicated that this has not only become more of a burden for schools, but it will also be ineffective because districts don’t clearly report the funding they are given. 

It is clear that legislators have been overall trying to fix the school budget, however, while saying this, it is also coherent that they still have yet to find a good solution. Teachers are still getting underpaid, and students are still struggling, particularly in poorer public schools. 

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