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Is Gov. Brown Right to Dole Out Money to Schools Unequally?

Compare per student funding in Santa Clara County schools.

This is what California public education looks like after the Great Recession: 

Between 2007 and 2010, the number of teachers in the state's K-12 classrooms shrunk by 11 percent. Reading specialists, librarians, and other school employees helping students learn declined by 14 percent. Front offices took the hardest blow, with the number of administrators dropping by 16 percent. All these cuts hit schools even as the total enrollment held steady at around 6.2 million students. 

Now that California is looking at its first budget without a deficit in five years, Gov. Jerry Brown's budget calls for restoring some money to the state's public schools. But, he does not want to distribute the money equally.

[For differences in revenues between Santa Clara County school districts during the 2010-11 school year, see the tables at the bottom of this article.]

"Aristotle said, 'Treating unequals equally is not justice.' And people are in different situations. Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," Brown said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

There are already big differences in the sums school districts get from the state.

Consider two communities Brown mentioned, Piedmont and Richmond. In the 2010-11 school year, Piedmont received $12,287 for every student. The West Contra Costa Unified School District, which includes Richmond, received $9,735 per student.

But only $3,300 of Piedmont’s revenue came from the state. That’s about a third less than the average unified school district gets from Sacramento. Contra Costa Unified School District received $5,600 per student from the state, which is more than the statewide average.

Here’s how Piedmont made up the difference and then some: The $9.1 million that Piedmont raised that school year in parcel taxes was 7,589 percent higher than the statewide average.

Brown’s spending plan has a $3 billion more than last year for K-12 and community colleges, will that be enough to bridge the economic gap that contributes to the achievement gap, and ultimately becomes a cycle-reinforcing income gap? Does more money improve student performance? 

Campbell USD Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid $452 14% Local Property Taxes $4,947 250% Federal Revenue $580 63% Other State Revenue $2,089 141% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $913 124% Total $8,981 106%

Campbell Union High School District Revenue for 2010-11

Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for high school districts State Aid -$85 0% Local Property Taxes $7,529 239% Federal Revenue $476 53% Other State Revenue $713 48% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $1,048 148% Total $9,682 99% Lakeside Joint SD Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid $42 1% Local Property Taxes $12,087 611% Federal Revenue $938 101% Other State Revenue $1,530 103% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $4,839 659% Total $12,000 229% Los Gatos USD Revenue for 2010-2011 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school district State Aid -$82 0% Local Property Taxes $6,039 305% Federal Revenue $355 38% Other State Revenue $420 28% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $2,321 316% Total $9,106 107% Los Gatos Saratoga Union High School Revenue for 2010-11 Source  $ Amount per student % Statewide average for high school districts State Aid -$14 0% Local Property Taxes $10,267 325% Federal Revenue $384 43% Other State Revenue $472 32% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $713 101% Total $11,822

121%

Loma Prieta School District Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid -$10
0% Local Property Taxes $6,938 351% Federal Revenue $587 63% Other State Revenue $968 65% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $2,502 341% Total $10,985

130%

Moreland School District Revenue for 2010-11
Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid $1,120 33% Local Property Taxes $3,880 196% Federal Revenue $533 57% Other State Revenue $1,205 81% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $2,025 276% Total $8,762 103% Saratoga USD Revenue for 2010-11 Source $ Amount per student % Statewide average for elementary school districts State Aid -$12 0% Local Property Taxes $8,713 441% Federal Revenue $308 33% Other State Revenue $549 37% Other Local Revenue (includes parcel taxes) $842 115% Total $10,400 123%

Source: California Department of Education, Ed-Data

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