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Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) Report on District Spending

Posted on 05/15/2012

Cutting strings on moeny

The Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO), an independent agency that provides information to the legislature on policy issues, has issued its latest three year report, Update on School District Finance in California (PDF). The report analyzes responses to a survey sent to all districts by the LAO. The report notes that per pupil spending has been reduced by five percent between 2007-08 and 2010-11, and that districts have had to make even deeper cuts in some cases to accommodate increasing costs for salaries and health benefits. Most districts have reduced both teaching and classified staff, increased class size, and reduced the number of days of instruction.

The report focuses on categorical flexibility the results of implementing this policy starting in 2009-10. It notes that there has been a trend of shifting funding away from categorical programs, including adult education, over all three years covered, and that a higher percentage of districts shifted more funds away from categoricals each year. The percent of districts responding to the survey that reported redirecting adult education funds was more than 80 percent, second only to high school class size reduction. It is also notable that only about 26 percent of districts report shifting funds away from Regional Occupational Program (ROP). (See Figure 7 on page 11 of the report.)

Districts report a desire to eliminate many categorical programs, and on this list (Figure 8, page 12), adult education is closer to the bottom, although still over 50 percent of districts would like to eliminate their adult education programs.

The report can be read online or downloaded (www) from the LAO Web site, and a video (www) is also posted of a staff member presenting and summarizing the report.

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