California plan for school construction bonds sparks debate for reform

A small group of advocates for equitable school construction asks why wealthier school districts keep getting the most state building aid. The group has been examining how school districts with small tax bases and low-income families can get a bigger share of state funding to upgrade school facilities. Now, they say, there is an opportunity to make that happen.

The biggest question is whether the state should change the current “first-come first-served” system of matching grants to districts to one that targets money to the neediest districts.

In this EdSource article, John Fensterwald quotes Jeff Vincent, one of the advocates for change and co-director of the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley. “If the Legislature moves forward without fixing inequities in funding, it will be doing a huge disservice to school districts and children in low-wealth communities.”

Last year, Vincent co-authored “Financing School Facilities in California: A Ten-Year Perspective,” a report for Getting Down to Facts II, a multi-study research project on California school governance, funding and staffing policies that Stanford University and the university-affiliated research nonprofit PACE jointly produced. In his study, Vincent provided the most extensive data to date documenting inequalities in the formula for allocating state money for construction projects under the state’s School Facilities Program.

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