Wednesday, February 8, 2017

State urged to shift $1 billion from county education offices to school districts | EdSource

State urged to shift $1 billion from county education offices to school districts | EdSource:

State urged to shift $1 billion from county education offices to school districts

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e independent, nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office is recommending that the state shift nearly all of  $1 billion in unrestricted funding that currently goes to county offices of education to school districts instead. That would allow districts to choose how to provide many services they now get from county offices, whose operations could be scaled way back as a result.
In a report issued Monday, the LAO criticized the lack of accountability of a system that funds county offices “regardless of how well they address the priorities of their districts.” It said that funding school districts directly would be more consistent with the Local Control Funding Formula’s philosophy of burdening districts with “few strings” in deciding what works best for them.
But the executive director of the organization representing the state’s 58 county offices called the report a “fundamentally flawed analysis” that would dismantle county offices. “The findings are dramatically out of proportion” and “show a misunderstanding of what we are doing,” said Peter Birdsall, who runs the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association.
The LAO report comes at a critical time for the county offices. Starting this spring, one of their mandated duties under a new school and district accountability system will be to see that districts address areas of poor performance on a range of new measures, including test scores, student suspension rates, and readiness for college and careers. Birdsall’s organization says that the counties need more funding for additional oversight responsibilities – money that Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t include in his proposed budget for next year.
But the bigger, costlier question – one that the LAO doesn’t address – is who would actually provide low-performing schools and districts with the technical help and more extensive assistance they would require. Would it be county offices, many of which already provide training and guidance, by default, or could a district choose their providers from other county offices, high-performing school districts, and for-profit and nonprofit organizations with proven expertise? The LAO suggests that the State Board of Education and the Legislature together should decide how the system would work. At the same time, they should redefine the functions of State urged to shift $1 billion from county education offices to school districts | EdSource:


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