California’s school finance system is complex and difficult to understand. To help you navigate the issue, as well as respond to the information in our story, we’ve put together a list of useful online resources and key players.
Most reliable school spending figures describe spending at a district level. However, spending per student at your child’s school should be available on the school’s School Accountability Report Card, or SARC. These should be available on the district or individual schools’ websites. If not, you can request it from a school official. However, the figures on the SARC should be used with caution. School-level finance information is typically unreliable, as schools used different methods for calculating their expenditures. For the most detailed reports on your school district's finances, go to Ed-Data. First, find your district, then in the "Select Report" pull-down box, select the "Financial Reports for District" option.
Unfortunately, knowing the amount of money your child’s school or school district is spending doesn’t necessarily tell you that much, as the relationship between how much a school spends and how its students perform academically is unclear. To better understand the ins and outs of school finance, we recommend visiting the EdSource website, dedicated to explaining complex education issues. The Orange County Register’s overview of school finance is also helpful.
If you would like to weigh in on the issue of per-student spending in California, here is a list of key players.
State Assembly Education Committee
Chairwoman: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica
Committee chairperson Brownley has introduced ambitious school financing reform legislation, AB 18.
State Senate Education Committee
California Department of Education
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson
Write: 1430 N St.
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901
California State Board of Education
Michael Kirst, President
Write: 1430 N St., Room 5111
Sacramento, CA 95814
California State PTA
Write: 2327 L St.
Sacramento, CA 95816-5014
The Campaign for Quality Education
(Filed a lawsuit against the state challenging the constitutionality of California's school financing system)
Write: 1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 317
Oakland, CA 94612