The Grade Blog

Wednesday, Jun 25 2014 06:08 PM

THE GRADE: State reveals new funding totals for districts

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. Reach her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter@TBCTheGrade.

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    By Contributed photo

    Kristyn Radman is a special education teacher at Discovery Elementary School in the Fruitvale School District.

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    About 800 attendees filled Olive Knolls Church Saturday to watch 120 students graduate from the Summit Bible College's associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. The college, which is currently applying for a federal accreditation, began as an online program in 1996 and started to offer classes locally in 2003. The first commencement ceremony included 16 graduates in 2006.

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By LAUREN FOREMAN, Californian staff writer lforeman@bakersfield.com

OFFICIAL TALLY OF NEW FUNDS: The state unveiled its first official funding breakdown Wednesday of how much money each California school district will receive by July as a result of a new school funding formula.

Nine Bakersfield districts will receive more than $35 million more collectively by the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year than they got during 2012-2013 as a result of the new funding formula, according to the state.

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ABOUT YOUR REPORTER

Lauren Foreman covers education for The Californian. She writes in this spot every Thursday. Contact her at lforeman@bakersfield.com, at Facebook.com/TBCEducationReporter or on Twitter @TBCTheGrade.

The added funding means less than $1 million for Beardsley, Fruitvale, Norris and Standard school districts and between $10 million and $13 million more for the two largest local educational agencies -- the Kern High School District and Bakersfield City School District.

The funding discrepancy seems obvious when comparing districts that serve, in the case of Rosedale, 5,236, and, in the case of Fruitvale, 3,199, students on average daily to those that serve 28,139 (BCSD) and 34,412 (KHSD) pupils.

But if officials held population sizes for the districts equal, a funding discrepancy would still exist because of priorities the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) -- assumes.

Using LCFF, the state provides general purpose money to all school districts and tacks on dollars to districts that serve the most disadvantaged students -- low-income students, English learners and foster youth.

So schools that serve larger percentages of those students, like the 87.8 percent of students in the Bakersfield City School District, receive more funding than districts like Rosedale Union -- which had an unduplicated count of low-income students, English learners and foster youth equal to 26.7 percent of the student body in 2013-2014.

School boards throughout Kern County passed accountability plans this week to align that added funding with eight state criteria -- basic services, Common Core State Standards, parent involvement, student achievement, student engagement, school climate, access to a broad curriculum and other student outcomes in areas such as physical education and arts.

While LCFF is the state's mechanism for giving local districts and stakeholders more control over education funding, the accountability plan requirement is its mechanism for holding districts responsible for using funding appropriately.

The California Department of Education released official LCFF calculations Wednesday in what the state agency touted in a press release as another step "toward transparency and accountability."

TEACHER OF THE WEEK: Kristyn Radman, a special education teacher at Discovery Elementary School, has been teaching for 10 years -- nine in the Fruitvale School District at Discovery.

"I love my job," Radman said.

Fruitvale Superintendent Mary Westendorf recommended Radman as Teacher of the Week, calling her an "incredible teacher."

"Kristyn loves her students and sees their potential, not their disabilities," Westendorf wrote in an email.

COLLEGE STILL WORTH MONEY: Going to college is still a worthwhile financial investment despite soaring tuition costs and burdensome student debt, according to a new government study.

From 1970 to 2013, the average college graduate has earned about $64,500 a year versus $41,000 for someone with only a high school diploma, according to the analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Over a working career, total earnings of the average college grad topped those of a high school grad by more than $1 million, the study -- at tinyurl.com/pw84ra8 -- found.

"Once the full set of costs and benefits is taken into account, investing in a college education still appears to be a wise economic decision for the average person," the study concludes.

However, the comparative value of a college degree is due partly to the steadily declining fortunes of high school grads rather than to sunny prospects for those attending college.

-- Los Angeles Times

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