SACRAMENTO -- An independent organization that focuses on fiscal and policy analysis is urging the Legislature to approve the governor's school funding proposal, with increased accountability requirements.

In a report released Thursday, the California Budget Project found that it costs more to educate poor students and English language learners. Because of this, it makes sense to allocate more money to schools that serve those students, said Jonathan Kaplan, the organization's senior policy analyst."In addition to simplifying a school finance system that is widely regarded as outdated and overly complex, the governor's proposal would address inequities in the current system and provide additional resources for districts with the greatest needs," he said.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to direct additional money -- as much as $2 billion -- toward school districts with high concentrations of needy students and English language learners. Senate Democrats introduced an alternative bill last month that would spread the money more evenly by giving higher grants to all districts.

But Kaplan said money earmarked by the governor for disadvantaged students should not be diverted, in part because districts with high concentrations of those students need the money to educate them.

According to the report, the Antioch district in Contra Costa County currently receives $39 more per student than the San Ramon Valley district. Yet, 65.3 percent of Antioch's students are low-income or don't speak English fluently, compared to 8.1 percent of students in San Ramon Valley.


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Under the governor's proposal, Antioch would receive $2,032 more per student than San Ramon Valley after seven years, according to the report.

The Senate Democrats want to wait a year before implementing a new funding formula, to give lawmakers more time to hammer out the details. Kaplan said it might make sense to take another year to ensure the money is spent on the neediest students, but he cautioned against stalling on funding reform.

The governor expects to release a revised budget proposal next week, which could include changes to the education funding plan in the wake of opposition, Kaplan said.

Theresa Harrington covers education. Reach her at 925-945-4764 or tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.

online:
The complete report is available by visiting www.cbp.org. Click on "Moving Forward: Addressing Inequities in School Finance Through the Governor's Local Control Funding Formula."