School budget laws complicate tracking of Common Core spending

Apr 26, 2016 by

No way to know how much money is being spent on standards implementation.

The Fresno and Visalia school districts are spending $10 million each on new schools.

San Jose Unified put about $12 million toward staff bonuses, while Santa Ana Unified spent $9 million on retiree benefits.

The money is coming from about $3.6 billion in tax revenues California’s more than 1,000 school districts received over the past two years. The Legislature specified that it “intended” for districts to “prioritize” spending of the one-time funds on implementing academic standards, including Common Core standards in math and English.

But lawmakers also told districts that they first had to spend the funds to pay for any unreimbursed claims for programs and services mandated by the state. They could also spend the funds for “any other purpose.”

That multipronged and even confusing message has prompted several advocates, along with a key legislator on education matters, to argue that the funds should have been targeted for more specific purposes – and that districts should be required to report more precisely how they spent the funds.

“It’s shocking to me that districts would not put this money directly into the classroom, because we’re trying to do something in education that does take extra resources,” said Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, who is a former teacher. “That’s not the highest and best use for the one‐time money, in my opinion,” she said, referring to the districts’ use of the funds on non­academic purposes.

“To have an intent and to not require that it be spent that way means it really was token, so it’s very problematic,” said Shelly Spiegel-Coleman, executive director of Californians Together, an organization that advocates on behalf of English-learner students. “It really kind of was a sham.”

Source: School budget laws complicate tracking of Common Core spending | EdSource

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