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Burbank school district looks toward funding boost

But officials are warned that they'll still have to narrow educational priorities.

September 26, 2013|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

A school finance expert predicts that the Burbank Unified School District could see a significant increase in state money under California’s new school funding system.

Under the new plan, Burbank Unified could receive at least $7,000 for each elementary and middle school student. For every high school student, the district could be paid about $8,600, according to calculations made by School Services of California.

However, chief executive Ron Bennett told the board earlier this month, the new funding formula will take about eight years to be fully implemented. And, based on the city’s relative affluence, it may not receive as much as other Los Angeles County districts of a similar size.

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The new formula replaces a funding method adopted in 1972. It will provide funds to each school district based on how many English-learners, low-income or foster students each has, instead of total student population.

Last year, Burbank Unified, and other California school districts, earned a flat $5,200 per student served.

The new funding system would also give the district 20% more money in the form of a supplemental grant per every student in the district that falls in those three categories.
About 43% of Burbank’s 15,000 students would qualify for the extra cash, securing the district another $1,500 to $1,700 for each one.

Other school districts, such as Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Fresno Unified, would be eligible for up to 50% in additional funds, known as concentration grants.

These grants would be given to districts whose total population of English-learners or low-income students equates to more than 55% of the total. Burbank Unified wouldn’t qualify.
With a new funding formula that is tied to a district’s demographics, Bennett said the district will have to prioritize how it will spend funds it will receive.

“You’re still going to have to keep up with the Joneses,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to do everything they can do.... This is a district that is going to have to narrow your priorities to a few, when you really have many,” he said.

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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