Equitable Funding System for California Term Paper

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(Restructuring California's School Finance System) The requirement of funds that the schools necessitate is also a matter of controversy attracting the attention of courts in California. The ACLU filed a writ petition of Williams et al. Vs. State of California et al. emphasizing that the state fails to meet the obligations in providing all students with basic educational necessities.

The local school districts appearing the law suit of ACLU were charged in the Gov. Davis and the state law suit blaming that the accountability goes to the school authorities rather than the state with regard to adequate provisions. These law suits are seen to have profound impact on the ways the schools are financed in California and the authorities and the ways by which the decisions are affected to. (School Finance Overview) It is left for consideration of the problems by a newly appointed state commission. The commission among others tried to resolve the problem of determination of the minimum requirement of resources to cater to the promising academic standards. It is a general consensus among the state educationists that California should bring a complete reformation the funding pattern or form a completely new system. (Rethinking How California Funds Its Schools)

The formulation of budgetary process for the education sector, taking into consideration the cost effectiveness at the local level, diversion of resources from non-teaching budgetary units to the class room expenditure, and ensuring equitable per-student allocation of resources on the basis of individual characteristics of the students is considered to be too complex. A simple financing system is prescribed to be adopted by California that allocates both categorical as well as revenue-limit budgetary provisions on the basis of a 'weighted student formula' that is expected to include equalization of the base allocation throughout the state and ensures additional weighted funds to meet the additional requirements of the students with reference to specialized education, poverty and English learners. The process is ensures the school finance system in California to become more simple, more just and entails remarkable cost reductions in the units of categorical administrative costs and central office costs and redirecting the savings to increase per student funding allocation in California. (Restructuring California's School Finance System)

The concept of 'weighted student formula' in its complete form appears in the several analyses and in the book of William G. Ouchi, Professor of Management in UCLA named as, Making Schools Work: A Revolutionary Plan to Get Your Children the Education They Need. The conclusions by Ouchi and 12 other researchers on the studies of various public and Catholic schools reveal that the decentralized school financing system are considered to be more effective ensuring better student performance. The individual schools are encouraged to compete for students by the weighted student formula and the principals are also permitted to regulate their budgetary allocations in order to direct towards the needs of their specific school population. Breaking the categorical programs and enhancing the basic allocation per student in the school involves substantial savings in the state and district budgets in terms of reduction in administrative costs for operation of varied categorical programs and maintenance of a large central office. The districts presently are required to apply for separate evaluation and monitoring of the proper utilization of categorical funds. (Restructuring California's School Finance System)

The research from Reason Foundation's Citizen's Budget emphasizes on an overall savings rate of a minimum of 15% of the total administrative expenses at the district and state levels with adoption of these reforms. The two ideas presently hovering are enhancement of alcohol tax and extension of sales tax for supporting additional services. The alcohol tax in California is still considered to be the lower in comparison to the national average. It is urged to extend the jurisdiction of the Governor's Quality Education Commission to study the ways of reformation of the categorical programs effected to by other states and to evaluate the methodology of implementation of the weighted student formula and devising of model legislation on the basis of the best practices from other states and localities. (Restructuring California's School Finance System)

The insufficiency of school funding on Proposition.13 is being criticized vehemently. The constitutional amendment as old as of 1978 required the taxation of residences and commercial properties at only 1% of their assessed value at the time of purchasing the property. It was intended to make the housing costs reasonable however, confining the tax revenue going into education. (Budget crisis forces new thoughts on school funding) Consequently the measures led to curtailment of property taxes by 60%. The curtailment involved more variations in the school funding system of California in comparison to that of in earlier years. (California School Finance) It has changed the methodology employed for assessment of properties for taxation. Such assessments before 1978 were based on the full market value of the property. However, the Proposition 13 turned around the assessment on the present properties on the basis of the assessments made in 1975 and confined the assessment of values to 2% per annum in respect of the properties that are not sold. (Targeting Proposition 13 and Saving California)

With the transfer of properties along with the properties newly constituted, the assessment is made on the basis of its full market value and the assessment then increases 2% per annum. The property tax relief measures vetted by the voters of California are considered to be in response to the prevailing tax systems necessitating reformation. (Targeting Proposition 13 and Saving California) The Proposition 13 however, inherited harmful effects in respect of school districts in California as emphasized by Downes and Figlio and in respect of horizontal inequities in tax burdens as narrated by Sexton, Sheffrin and O'Sullivan. The inheritance by Proposition 13 further extended to other states in the following years those were supposedly inspired by the adoption of Californian example in respect of their property tax limitation measures. (Proposition 13 and Its Offspring:For Good or for Evil?)

Prior to promulgation of proposition 13 California was considered to have dominance in public education system having students ranking in top five among the states in terms of the performance. California was placed in top 10 states in terms of per-student expenditure during 1969. At that time about 55% of the elementary and high school funding was collected from local property taxes and was allotted by the local school board. (California's Proposition 13 Debacle: Could this lie in Wisconsin's future?) Proposition 13 was said to have revolutionized the very way of funding education in California. (Fort Bragg schools feel sting of Proposition 13) The school funding was transferred from local communities to the State along with shifting of control over them. The local system of finance was dependent upon the property tax, nearly half of which constitute commercial, industrial and agricultural property. Consequently, the taxes on non-residential property seem to have subsidized the local home owners and renters. The transfer of all property tax revenue to the state authorities by the Proposition 13, the subsidy so granted were stopped and in turn the cost of school services to the homeowners and renters were increased. (Fort Bragg schools feel sting of Proposition 13)

The enhancement of costs resulted in comparative decrease in per-student expenditure. In the post Proposition 13 period the state allocated revenues more justly among the school districts and efforts were made to leveling down the high spending districts and rising up the low spending ones. The local districts are constrained to raise money for adjusting the difference and restoration of the popular programs. Besides, the methodology has exerted difficulty in revamping the schools and establishes new ones by the district authorities even if the projects were demanded by majority of the voters. (Fort Bragg schools feel sting of Proposition 13) The elementary high school and community college districts are authorized to collect fees for provision of services and other facilities.

The enhancement of fees is being considered by about 50% of the school districts as revealed in the survey reports conducted by Los Angeles Times taking a sample of 70 school districts and community college systems in Southern California. The provision for community services like swimming pools, racquetball courts, play grounds and class rooms for night meetings, adult education, vocational education, public lectures and student health services etc. are effected to. The school bus fares are charged at the rate of 15 cents to $1 per day by some of the school districts in Northern California. (A report from California: Proposition 13)

Due to Proposition 13 and its progeny, assistance for schools of California has a propensity to "equalization" at a point that positions them at a condition of continuous financial emergency. Concurrently, several ambiguities and inclination towards privatization, like setting up of private educational foundations to financially support schools in affluent districts, indicates that puddles of influential investments continues in the middle of this "equalization." (Money, Schools, & Courts) The adversaries require…[continue]

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