Two Years of California’s Local Control Funding Formula: Time to Reaffirm the Grand Vision

Two Years of California’s Local Control Funding Formula: Time to Reaffirm the Grand Vision
May 14, 2016 Stuart Foundation

California ended 40 years of reliance on categorical funding for schools when Governor Jerry Brown signed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) into law on July 1, 2013. LCFF intends to enhance services for high‐needs students through new flexibility, targeted student funding, and local accountability. Two years into LCFF implementation, our research in 18 districts and more than half of the state’s County Offices of Education (COEs) uncovers both reasons for optimism and a few concerns.

District officials around the state remain enthusiastic about local control. Many report that the LCFF has allowed their district to focus more on supports and services for their high‐needs students, improve their budget development and strategic planning processes, and increase community engagement. District and COE officials are nearly unanimous that fully implementing the LCFF will take more time and no one we interviewed favors a return to categorical funding. However, implementation of the LCFF is creating an uneasy tension between local control and compliance that threatens to undermine the vision.

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