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Funding changes bring uncertainty to Sonoma County schools

  • Teacher Jake Dunn instructs students Bruno Moreda, 16, left, and Rico Ielmorini, 15, on plasma cutting during an Ag Welding class at Petaluma High School in Petaluma, California on Thursday, January 30, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

California's model for school funding has been turned on its head, leaving educators in Sonoma County scrambling to figure out what the new landscape means for valued and established programs.

Some say the radical change that gives local boards more control over money matters is a long time coming and a welcome change, while others are expressing concern that the shake-up will leave valued programs out in the cold.

The change could affect funds once designated for everything from agriculture classes to high school exit exam preparation.

"This is huge, huge, huge," Mickey Porter, assistant superintendent of educational support services for the Sonoma County Office of Education, said of the way the state is now allocating school funding under the Local Control Funding Formula.

"LCFF has changed how we view and how we answer the question of 'Which programs should be in schools?'" she said.

Under the new formula, all school districts will receive a base amount of funding with markedly fewer restrictions as to where those dollars can be spent.

In addition, districts are slated to receive supplemental funds based on the number of English learners, socio-economically disadvantaged and foster children who are enrolled.

Districts with disadvantaged enrollments of more than 55 percent will get even more money.

The change comes at a time when California's coffers for education are the fullest they have been in years.

In addition to revenues from voter-approved Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget calls for $6.3 billion in additional funds for K-12 and community colleges next year.


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