Brown’s new budget plan targets public schools

(AP)

California Governor Jerry Brown is proposing a sweeping overhaul to the way K-12 money is distributed. His plan would establish a base funding grant for every student that would be supplemented with additional money for students whose first language is not English or those from low-income homes.

Schools in which more than half the students are low-income or English-learners would receive even more money. His overhaul is intended to boost achievement at the most impoverished schools, but it is likely to draw criticism from districts with more affluent parents.

The governor’s proposal would eliminate dozens of so-called “categorical” funding streams, which provide additional money for everything from physical education programs to school safety. That would free local school districts to decide how best to spend the money and presumably cut the bureaucracy associated with them.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers gave tepid support for the concept, but said the formula was too complicated to quickly evaluate.

Brown also would shift about $300 million for adult education programs from K-12 districts to community colleges, which Brown says are better suited to meet the needs of adults.

Community colleges will receive an additional $197 million (a 3.6 percent increase), as well as $179 million owed by the state. They also would receive $17 million to create a “virtual campus” of 250 new online courses.

The University of California and California State University will receive an additional $250 million each. They would receive steady funding increases over the next four years in exchange for keeping tuition at current levels.

Brown wants colleges and universities to offer more online courses to help expand access and reduce costs. The UC and CSU systems would receive $10 million each to develop online versions of high-demand courses.

He also wants to cap the number of units undergraduates can take at in-state tuition levels to encourage students to complete their degrees more quickly.

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