Effect on Districts Across California

Nineteen out of twenty school districts in California will have to shed carryover funds and reserves when the first dollar goes into the state's school savings account -- an estimated $5 billion based on the latest district data.  

To understand why, it's important to note that tiny rural districts have typically carried larger reserves.  A single financial shock -- having to replace the school bus, playground equipment that doesn't meet a new state law, seismic repairs -- can easily equate to 10-20% of a tiny district's annual expenditures.  They also don't have the resources to lobby Sacramento or negotiate with bankers the way that the largest districts do.  So they carry proportionally large reserves to protect their teachers and kids from these problems.

Also, many districts are funded primarily by parcel or property taxes.  Given that property and parcel taxes are paid twice a year -- in April and December -- these districts carry funds over from the April payment to fund August, September, October, and November's bills. 

Across the state, districts have carried an average amount equal to 16% of annual expenditures over to the next school year.  The median is 25%, which is skewed by the large number of very small districts (25% of our districts educate just 0.5% of our children).  Looked at by size:

  • The largest district in the state, Los Angeles Unified, educates 10% of the state's pupils.  Its carryover was 9% in 2012-13 (the most recent published year).  It would have to spend down $360 million to get to the allowed 3% or $170 million (less than ten days' operating expenditures on its $5.7 billion annual budget).  LAUSD's financial status was "qualified" during the published year.  The state owed it $1 billion on June 30, 2012, and $600 million on June 30th, 2013 and 2014.
  • The next 25 districts have average daily attendances of over 30,000 students, educating 20% of the state's pupils between them.  The large districts' median carryover was 11% in 2012-13.  They would have to spend down over $650 million, to get to the allowed 4% or less ($400 million).  Eight of them were in qualified or negative financial status during this period.  The state owed them $1.9 billion on June 30, 2012, and $900 million on June 30th, 2013 and 2014.
  • The 515 districts between 1,000 and 30,000 in average daily attendance educate 67% of California's schoolchildren.  Their median carryover was 18% in 2012-13. 
  • The 170 small districts between 300 and 1000 in average daily attendance educate 2% of California's schoolchildren.  Their median carryover was 30% in 2012-13.
  • The 231 very small districts, up to 300 children in average daily attendance educate just 0.5% of California's schoolchildren and carried a median of 59% of operating funds and reserves over from 2012-13.

Are you wondering how to check our data?  Or get more information on school funding?

The statewide financial database is available at www.ed-data.k12.ca.us
Under Financial Reports, General Fund, you can find:

  • Total Expenditures (click on Object Codes for a pop-up), Average Daily Attendance, Secured Property Tax, ERAF, and Parcel Tax receipts
  • Components of Ending Fund Balance:  9780 Other Assignments, 9789 Reserve for Economic Uncertainties, and 9790 Unassigned/Unappropriated Funds.  (Note:  this is Fund 1 only -- the much-smaller Fund 17 requires going into the CDE SACS database available at www.cde.ca.gov)

Deferrals and late payments to schools are available in the Second Principal Apportionment spreadsheets for each year at www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/


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