New Funding Formula Means More Money For TUSD

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The new state system for funding K-12 education will bring an additional $37.2 million to the Turlock Unified School District’s coffers each year.

But the new system will take years to fully implement – and potentially means less funding in certain areas.

“It turned our state financing for schools kinda on its head,” said Lori Decker, Assistant TUSD Superintendent of Financial Services. “We have a whole new system for funding.”

As a result of the new state budget, the Local Control Funding Formula will replace the old program of categorical grants, where districts had to spend state grants on specific programs.

Instead, the district now gets a flat amount per student, varying by grade level, to spend as they wish. Districts receive bonus add-ons for the additional costs of educating “eligible” students, like English-language learners, foster children, and those eligible for free or reduced-cost lunch; 67.7 percent of TUSD students are “eligible.”

In total, the district expects to receive $122.5 million annually once the program is fully implemented.

“Is it substantially more than we’re currently getting?” asked TUSD Trustee Frank Lima.

“It is,” Decker said.

In 2012, TUSD received $85.3 million – $37.2 million less than proposed under the new formula. But that surge of new money won’t come all at once.

“We are going to be working our way there over a number of years until it’s fully implemented,” Decker said.

The increase is projected to be spread out over eight years, increasing 12 percent per year – at least for now. The implementation of LCFF is still changing frequently at the state level, as legislators examine the economic reality of the new policy.

“Many experts feel like eight years is highly optimistic,” Decker said, noting the increase would require massive economic expansion. “… Based on economic history, it’s unlikely.”

The district expects to receive only an additional $4.3 million this year. That’s about $3.5 million more than in the adopted TUSD budget, which included a cost of living adjustment which ate up a portion of the funding.

Though the new money is welcome, some of it must be used to replace previously-dedicated funding sources. For example the school district will no longer receive dedicated library grants, English-learner grants, or class-size reduction grants.

And the district also expects to spend more on building maintenance, and with the help of conditioned based maintenance, building or facility managers will be able to spot any problems before they have a chance to get worse, helping them to save more money in the long run. As well as this, the State of California has made clear that it will no longer offer funding for new school buildings.

“If we can’t build new facilities, we’d better be sure our existing facilities stay maintained,” Lima said.

On Tuesday, the TUSD Board of Trustees also:
• Approved new contracts for the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents, reflecting a 4 percent pay increase. The contracts restore 2.5 percent in salary concessions and provide 1.5 percent in new pay, equal to recently-approved teacher contracts.
• Approved an $83,199 increase in costs to modernize Cunningham Elementary School. The district did not realize that a large amount of cabling work would be needed as part of the project, as phone, intercom, and alarm bells were strung through the demolished portables rather than underground as expected.
• Approved the 2013 graduation and promotion ceremony schedules. The Dutcher and Turlock Junior High School ceremonies will now be held in the Pitman High School gym, with TJHS now holding only two ceremonies.
The schedule is as follows:
May 21:On-Track graduation, 11:30 a.m., Donnelly Park; Turlock Adult School graduation, 7:30 p.m., Community Auditorium.
May 28: Dutcher promotion, 4:00 p.m., PHS Gymnasium; eCademy 12th graduation, 5:30 p.m., eCademy; Roselawn graduation, 6:30 p.m., Roselawn.
May 29: eCademy 8th promotion, 11:00 a.m., eCademy; Pitman graduation, 7:00 p.m., Pitman Amphitheatre.
May 30: TJHS promotion, 2:00 p.m., PHS Gymnasium; TJHS promotion, 4:00 p.m., PHS Gymnasium; Turlock HS graduation, 7:00 p.m., Debely Stadium.
• Revised the Uniform Complaint Procedure, making the document easier to read, adding information about bullying, and stating that the district may not charge a fee for educational services.
• Approved a schedule of Back-to-School Nights, as follows:
6 p.m., Aug. 21 – Walnut Elementary Education Center, Cunningham School, Medeiros School.
5:40 p.m., Aug. 22 – Brown School.
6:00 p.m., Aug. 22 – Crowell School, Earl School.
5:30 p.m., Aug. 27 – Julien School.
6 p.m., Aug. 27– eCademy Charter.
5:30 p.m. Aug. 28 – Wakefield School.
6 p.m., Aug. 28 – Osborn School.
6 p.m. Aug. 29 – Turlock Junior High School.
• Changed the title of the Supervisor of Transportation to the Director of Transportation.
• Approved sending sixth grade students to Foothill Horizons Outdoor Education camp in Sonora, at a cost of $224 per student.

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