Greetings! It is hard to believe the holidays have arrived! I hope you and your family enjoyed the Thanksgiving break and found time for enjoyment, togetherness, and gratitude.
Working with LPIE, one of the things I often find myself talking about is school funding. Why do we have to privately fund public schools? Is there really this urgent need? Unless you closely follow the Lafayette or Acalanes School District meetings this may be a mystery. What is surprising though, is the inadequate and unpredictable funding from the state that goes to Lafayette schools. Here are some facts:
The per pupil funding for both the Lafayette School District and Acalanes District is lower today than it was in 2007. Our schools took a severe hit with the recession in 2008; 20% of the budgets were cut. Despite the state slowly increasing the amount each year, we still are not where we were nine years ago.It is predicted that this level of funding won’t return until 2020.
Our district does not get as much per student funds from the state as other districts, including Oakland, West Contra Costa, and Richmond. Why is that? A few years ago there was a shift to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The idea behind this is good. All districts receive base funding and then those districts with high populations of students that are English language learners, foster youth, or of low socio-economic status receive supplemental money. Since Lafayette does not have high populations of any of these students, we do not benefit from these extra grants. The problem lies in that the base funding is not adequate.
The per pupil amount to the Lafayette School District from the state is $7,340. Compare this to a state like New York that has per student funding at $19,000 - two and a half times the spending in Lafayette!
This year the Lafayette School District is receiving 77% of its yearly operating budget from the state and the Acalanes Union High School District is receiving 73% of its yearly operating budget from the state. Both districts receive only 2% from Federal funds. Where does the rest come from? Luckily, we have a community that recognizes the importance of education. Lafayette citizens have voted to support parcel taxes. This is great! But a gap still remains. This is where LPIE comes into play.
The good news is we have the ability to directly impact the learning that goes into every classroom TK-12th grade through LPIE. This year, we are actively working to raise $2.935 million of which $2.889 will go directly towards the schools. Whether you can donate $20 or $5,000, your contribution does make a substantial difference to students!
Wishing you cheer and joy this holiday season!
Amy Parlett, President