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Gov. Brown proposes another $242 million in funding for California schools

California Governor Jerry Brown  (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
California Governor Jerry Brown (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)
Max Whittaker/Getty Images

Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal unveiled Tuesday recommends giving public schools and community colleges nearly a quarter of a billion dollars in additional funding in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

His “May revise” proposes an unexpected additional $242 million to go towards - among other things - his new Local Control Funding Formula, which increases funding for school districts with large proportions of English Learner and low income students.

"This May Revision is good news for California," Brown said in a written statement.

It's a small portion of the $2.4 billion more that state officials predict will flow into California’s treasury. The Governor added about $2 billion in additional spending - mostly towards health care coverage, drought aid, and beefing up teachers’ pension funds.

Schools will also get a boost for computer technology, which many need in light of the state's change to computerized standardized tests. The governor proposes spending $26.7 million for a so-called K-12 High Speed Network to test networks and improve schools’ technology for the 2014-2015 tests which, unlike this year, will count.

L.A. Unified officials said they're pleased about an administrative, but significant, change in the May Revise.

Also slipped into the budget: Brown backed down from a requirement last year that school districts do a new head count of how many students meet low income thresholds, one of the things that qualify districts for additional funding under the new formula. L.A. Unified and other school districts with thousands of such students protested it was onerous requirement at a higher standard than what they already have to do for federal free and reduced lunch qualification. The May Revise lets districts do counts once every four years.

After years of deep cuts, schools were already set to receive a hefty funding increase next year. Brown’s initial proposal, released in January, had recommended increasing education funding by $4.6 billion. California ranks toward the bottom in per pupil public funding among the 50 states.

Education officials were happy with Brown’s proposal.

“Governor Brown’s May Revision reaffirms California’s commitment to local control over education dollars, and continues the state’s progress toward empowering local administrators, teachers, parents, students, and school communities,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a written statement.

If approved, the additional funding would eliminate deferred payments, a Sacramento recession-era budget balancing tactic that wreaked havoc on many school district budgets by issuing them IOUs in addition to funding cuts. Many districts tapped into their reserves or took out loans to make their payroll and pay other costs.