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Most of the money — $2.8 million — would go toward accelerating one of Brown's signature initiatives: a new school funding formula that directs extra funds to schools with the most students learning to speak English, from low-income families or living in foster care.
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of per-pupil funding are based on federal data that typically are a few years old. Education Week's Quality Counts report, a respected ranking system that accounts for regional living costs and poverty rates, last week listed California at 46th among the states with per-student spending of $8,213 in 2013, far below the national average of $11,667.
"We have to be aware of the fact that even though we have increased our funding in education, we're still number 40-something in the nation, so we're still far, far behind in terms of adequately funding our schools in comparison to other states," said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who heads the Assembly budget committee.
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, a Democrat known for preaching fiscal restraint, released a budget plan last week that would boost state spending per student to $10,591 in the next fiscal year, compared to $8,564 per student in 2007 and $7,008 during the worst of the recession. The rebound stems from a constitutional amendment that guarantees schools a minimum level of annual funding, an amount that grows considerably, as now, during good economic times.
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Brown's proposal would increase the state's overall K-12 spending to $51 billion, or $1.4 billion more than the current year. The figure reflects both cuts attributed to projected enrollment declines and more than $3.2 billion in new funds.
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Brown said the funding would bring the formula close to full implementation, a milestone the state originally did not expect to reach until 2020. The funding formula also encourages districts to set class sizes kindergarten through third grades at no more than 24.
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Corruption is one of those consensual topics
Mike Walsh, a Butte County school board member who serves as vice president of the California School Boards Association, said school leaders are thankful for what would be a fourth consecutive year of budget growth following the same number of painful cuts.
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And while Brown's 2016-17 budget takes a more modest approach, "things are probably going to be rosier in June than they are now," if negotiations with the Legislature and higher-than-anticipated tax revenues yield a bigger payoff for schools, he said.