California School Districts Use Budget Flexibility to Balance Budgets, Avoid Layoffs
Jun 25, 2012
Much of California's school funding is allocated through programs whose funding comes with requirements that districts use the money to support specific programs. In 2008–09, the strings were taken off 40 of these programs as part of a deal that also reduced their funding. This report presents the results of a survey of California's district chief financial officers (CFOs), describing how they made decisions in light of this new state policy.
How Districts Responded to Flexibility in Tier 3 Categorical Funds in 2010-2011
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California's system of school finance is highly regulated and prescriptive. A large share of state funding is allocated through categorical programs, that is, programs whose funding is contingent upon districts using the money in a particular way or for a particular purpose. In 2008–09, the strings were taken off 40 of those programs, collectively known as the "Tier 3" programs, as part of a budget deal that also reduced the funding for those programs. The authors conducted a survey of 350 California school district chief financial officers (CFOs) between April and August of 2011 to see how district leaders responded to this sudden, limited fiscal flexibility and the conditions that shaped their decisions.
Deregulating School Aid in California
Opinions, Sources of Information, and Knowledge About Tier 3 Flexibility
How Were Tier 3 Program Funds Used and Accounted For?
How Districts Made Budget Decisions — Goals, Local Constituencies, and Outside Advice
Consequences of Tier 3 Flexibility for Districts
District Leaders' Future Plans
Conclusions and Policy Implications
List of Advisory Group Members
List of Tier 3 Categorical Programs (2009-2010)
Procedures for Sampling, Data Collection, and Analysis
Median Values on Selected District Characteristics
Comparing CFO Responses Based on District Characteristics
School Characteristics Associated with District Responses to Tier 3 Flexibility
The research described in this report was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation, and was conducted by PACE research network and RAND Education, a division of the RAND Corporation.
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