Senator Portantino Reintroduces K-12 Funding Reform Bill

Thursday, January 19 2023

For Immediate Release: January 19, 2023

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400

Senator Portantino Reintroduces K-12 Funding Reform Bill

Sacramento, California Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) introduced Senate Bill 98 today, a measure that would increase funding for K-12 schools by $3.4 billion. A prudent reform bill, SB 98 bases school funding on enrollment rather than attendance and is similar to SB 830, which Senator Portantino had introduced last year.  SB 830 received support from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the California School Employees Association, and many other school institutions.  

“Enrollment-based funding will ensure that California schools are funded more equitably and have greater financial stability and predictability,” stated Senator Portantino. “The current outdated system for determining budgets for K-12 schools is based solely on student attendance and negatively impacts too many low-income students.  Many children lack reliable transportation, housing and suffer from health-related issues that contribute to school absences.  SB 98 helps ensure that students are in school, are receiving the support they need to learn and thrive and districts have stable and increased funding,” he added.

California is one of six states that does not consider student enrollment figures for determining state aid to school districts.  Districts plan their budgets and expend funds based on the number of students enrolled but receive funds based on their average daily attendance.  For example, if a school district enrolls 100 students but their attendance rate is 95%, the school district must still prepare as if 100 students will attend class every day but only receive funding for 95 students.

SB 98 remedies this inequity and would define “average daily membership” as the amount of the aggregate enrollment days for all pupils in a school district or county office of education, from transitional kindergarten to grade 12, divided by the total number of instructional days for the local educational agency in an academic year.

SB 98 would require a local educational agency to receive the difference between what they would have received under the local control funding formula (LCFF) based on average daily enrollment and what they received under the local control funding formula based on average daily attendance for that fiscal year.

“SB 98 will provide new funding to California schools using a more equitable funding calculation to help improve attendance, successfully address chronic absenteeism and better support students in need,” stated Superintendent Tony Thurmond. “It also makes funding more predictable so districts and schools can plan ahead. The estimated $3.4 billion provided by this important legislation will put students and schools on a better path to close opportunity and education gaps.”

“When students are facing trauma, economic uncertainty, or dangerous routes to school, the simple act of showing up to class isn’t so simple,” said Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho. “SB 98 would provide more equitable funding to help school districts address the root causes of absenteeism and ensure all students receive support to be in class and learning every day. Additional funding, coupled with tailored outreach to students who are chronically absent, can demonstrate to students that each of their lived experiences matter and our schools are a safe haven where we commit to meet their needs and nurture their dreams. Los Angeles Unified is a proud co-sponsor of this bill, which could leave a lasting legacy for our students.”

In order for a local educational agency to be eligible for supplemental educational funding, SB 98 would require the local educational agency to report the average daily enrollment for the prior academic year to the State Superintendent on July 1 and to demonstrate a maintenance of effort to address chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy.  The bill would also require local educational agencies to use at least 30% of their supplemental education funding to supplement existing local educational agency expenditures to address chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy.

SB 98 includes a 5-year review provision, where we could see how the supplemental funding was spent and whether it increased attendance rates and reduced chronic absenteeism and habitual truancy.

“Our current attendance-based funding system ignores the challenges that students and families face when it comes to going to school,” stated California School Employees Association, Association President Adam Weinberger. “It unfairly takes resources away from the schools that need it the most, such as those in lower-income communities which tend to have higher rates of absenteeism. Our members, including attendance clerks and instructional assistants, know that student absences actually cost money and demand additional resources to track down absent students and prepare make-up assignments. CSEA thanks Senator Anthony Portantino for introducing CSEA sponsored Senate Bill 98, which provides additional funding to schools based on enrollment and we look forward to working with members of the Senate and Assembly to ensure California schools will be funded equitably and have greater fiscal stability.”