Act now to revitalize school funding

California's students deserve a public school system that will provide them the tools they need to develop a solid foundation of academic achievement. The Legislature can start us on a path toward this goal by passing Gov. Jerry Brown's Local Control Funding Formula.

Under the formula, the existing complex and outdated bureaucratic structure would be replaced with a new local system that gives schools the flexibility to direct education dollars to school districts and students that need it most — and no district would lose funding. This would help to level the playing field and improve student readiness across the board.

It's an exciting development for the Bay Area's public schools.

One of the principles at the heart of the governor's formula is acknowledging that an educated citizenry and skilled workforce are key to California's prosperity, growth and well-being.

That's why a broad coalition of educational advocates, business leaders, and civil-rights and faith-based groups, including Bay Area Council and Children Now, has formed to ask the Legislature to approve Brown's proposal.

We're not alone either. A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that a majority of Californians support Brown's school-funding formula.

The formula replaces the overly complex, outdated school funding structure with a new system that empowers schools at the local level.

By providing local communities, parents and teachers with the flexibility and power to set priorities and make funding decisions, schools will have greater fiscal certainty. Knowing what's coming down the road will allow schools to make long-term budget plans instead of reacting to state decisions year-to-year.

In the long run, schools will be better able to adapt to the needs of their students, and this increased responsiveness will help to instill students, parents and employers with greater confidence in their schools.

Brown's formula is, therefore, a win-win for everybody.

School districts that receive a boost in funding to serve disadvantaged students will be accountable for the academic progress of these students through annual audits and compliance reports. These measures will provide a clear focus and pathway toward improved student achievement.

We can no longer tolerate an outdated, irrational and overly complex school finance system that yields unacceptable inequities and poor student outcomes. We have a unique opportunity to implement a system that achieves local control, equity, transparency and accountability.

Our schools and students have waited long enough. The Legislature needs to pass Brown's school funding proposal now.

Linda Galliher is the vice president of public policy at the Bay Area Council. Ted Lempert is the president of Children Now.

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