Deregulating School Aid in California: How Educators Allocate Flexible Tier 3 Categorical Funds: Findings from 10 School Districts, 2009-2010

Deregulating School Aid in California: How Educators Allocate Flexible Tier 3 Categorical Funds: Findings from 10 School Districts, 2009-2010
May 26, 2011 Stuart Foundation

This report details how leaders in 10 California school districts responded to the deregulation of $4.5 billion in education funding. It documents what happened in the ten varied districts, how budget decision were made by district leaders, and what local conditions are linked to districts’ response to the new flexibility. The study was conducted by researchers from Rand Corporation; the University of California, Berkeley, The University of California, Davis; and San Diego State University. In addition to study’s findings that there were major limitations on deregulation’s effect, the study also illuminated a few ways in which some districts did take advantage of the new flexibility.

  • Superintendents and districts with existing student learning initiatives were more likely to use the new flexibility to fund local education priorities.
  • Some education superintendents consolidated the funds under the new flexibility for “improvement of teaching, utilizing student data more rigorously,” and targeting disadvantaged students.
  • Surprisingly, relative fiscal health did not correlate to how districts used the flexible funds, for example, whether they backfilled cuts or strengthened reform programs.