In this file photo from Monday, Nov. 28, 2011, Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, right, a member of the University of California Board of Regents, addresses student concerns over tuition and fee hikes during a regents meeting held at the University of California, Davis. Perez is one of several state lawmakers who oppose a school funding flexibility proposal and want to make sure the draft makes it clear extra funds will go to needy students.
California made a major change to public school funding this past summer – giving extra money to schools with high proportions of disadvantaged children, such as those living in poverty or who are just learning English.
Flexibility is a key provision of the funding change. With the swoop of a pen, Gov. Jerry Brown did away with various funding pots and let school districts decide how to best use funds.
The State Board of Education will meet next month to decide how districts should report that spending.
In a letter to the board, state lawmakers — including Assembly Speaker John Perez, who chairs the Senate Education Committee — said draft regulations should be changed to make sure spending is transparent. They want to make it clear districts are compelled to use the extra funds for needy students – and not to shore up district-wide efforts.
"The legislators have a right to be concerned; skepticism is healthy," said Teri Burns, with the California School Boards Association, who's worried what lawmakers really want is to preserve those old funding pots, known as categoricals.
"The categorical approach that we’ve had for many years has not proven successful," Burns said.
Burns said she expects a healthy discussion at the board’s January meeting.