California Legislature Passes Weber’s School Funding Accountability Legislation

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Bill addresses concerns that money for vulnerable students are not being used for their benefit

The California Legislature has sent Governor Gavin Newsom legislation that would ensure that K-12 school funding intended for low-income students, foster youth and English-language learners is actually spenton helping  those students achieve. AB 1835, authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D. (D-San Diego) would require more transparent reporting on how these supplemental and concentration grants are used and that surplus funds that roll over from year to year continue to be used for that purpose.  The bill received nearly unanimous bipartisan support by lawmakers.

“With the potential learning loss from  Covid among these groups, we have to ensure that these students – who consistently underperform –  have the resources they need for academic success,” Weber said. “We cannot allow school districts to continue to have an incentive to misappropriate these funds for other purposes.”

Weber, who served on the San Diego Unified School District for eight years, has been vocal in calling for stricter guidelines for how these funds are used since the state moved toward local control of district funding in 2013.  Along with her Assembly colleague, Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Weber called for an audit of how these funds were spent and accounted. Among the California State Auditor’s findings were that the State’s approach to LCFF had not ensured that supplemental and concentration funds were benefiting students as intended to close achievement gaps, while $320.6 million aimed at these students had ended up in district general funds. AB 1835 reflects recommendations made by the auditor to address these issues.

Weber noted that there are vested interests trying to make the argument for continued flexibility spending these funds because of budget concerns resulting from the Covid crisis.

“Covid or no Covid, they have failed these students and have not made a clear accounting of whether they even tried to help them,” Weber said. “It’s been seven years since we instituted this new funding policy. Time is up. The Legislature - which established these grants and continues to fund them – has passed AB 1835 with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans. Our intent is absolutely clear.”

The Governor will have thirty days from receipt to sign or veto the bill.