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California's education funding law AB- 97 School Finance - Local Control Funding Formula violates Article XVI, §8 of the California Constitution by denying all students in school districts that have a low percentage of students who are English Language Learners, receiving Free and Reduced Lunch and/or are in Foster Care of their Constitutional right to achieve equality of educational opportunity by denying them sufficient funding to obtain high quality staff, program expansion and variety, beneficial teacher-pupil ratios, modern equipment and materials, and high quality buildings.

1.     The California Constitution gives education funding a unique priority above all other state funding obligations by requiring:


"from all state revenues there shall FIRST be set apart the monies to be applied by the State for support of the public school system..." Cal. Const. art. XVI, §8. (Emphasis added)


To meet it's constitutional mandate (Cal. Const. art. XVI, §8), the State of California must set per pupil funding at an amount that is sufficient to provide EVERY K-12 student with substantially equal opportunities to achieve a quality education. 


"Equal Opportunity to Achieve a Quality Education" is defined by the courts to be:


"...opportunity to obtain high quality staff, program expansion and variety, beneficial teacher- pupil ratios and class sizes, modern equipment and materials, and high-quality buildings."  [Serrano v. Priest II (1976) 18 Cal. 3d 748] 


2.      California's new education funding law AB -97 School Finance - Local Control Funding Formula determines the amount of per pupil funding that each district receives based on the following formula: 

Base Grant + Supplemental Grant + Concentration Grant = Per Pupil Funding 

The "Base Grant" is universal for all students. 

The "Supplemental Grant" provides additional funding to Districts based on the percentage of students in the District that are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, or are in Foster Care. 

The "Concentration Grant" provides even more funding for Districts that have large concentrations of students that are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, or are in Foster Care.

Source: California Department of Education Local Control Funding Formula Overview  

Districts with low percentages of students who are English Language Learners, Receiving Free and Reduced Lunch, or are in Foster Care are being funded solely by the Base Grant. 

The State of California set the Base Funding Grant at $6,500 per pupil (below 2007-08 levels of per pupil funding). Then set the goal of having the Base Funding Grant increase to 2007-08 levels + inflation by the year 2021 (about $8,271 per student for CUSD). By 2021 the Capistrano Unified School District will have had flat funding of less than $8,271 per year for 14 years straight.


2007-08 $7,694
2008-09 $7,614
2009-10 $7,246
2010-11 $7,228
2011-12 $7,469
2012-13 $7,002
2013-14 $7,419
2014-15 $8,042
By 2021 $7,694 + Inflation or approximately $8,271


3.     In 2006, the State of California commissioned a study entitled "Efficiency And Adequacy in California School Finance: A Professional Judgement Approach To Determine The Cost To Adequately Educate A Student". Results of that study (2007-08) concluded that per pupil costs with special needs weightings were found to be:  

Average:    $11,094 to $12,365

Urban:        $11,508 to $12,718

Suburban:   $10,726 to $12,077

Towns:       $  8,932 to $  9,896

Rural:         $10,615 to $11,881

Source: at page xii

While the Courts have been reluctant to determine what adequate funding is, the Courts should have very little difficulty determining what inadequate funding is.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (latest data 2013 for the year 2011-12)


The State average per pupil funding in California in 2011-12 was  $9,608.   

The National average per pupil funding in 2011-12 was $11,363.

According to the latest California data for the year 2013-14, the State average per pupil funding in California has dropped to $8,867.


While the National average per pupil funding has increased to $12,401.


The State of California is currently enjoying the greatest tax revenue in its history, estimated to exceed $125 billion in revenue; in 2007-08 tax revenues were $103 billion.


By any measure, the Governor and the State Legislature are intentionally underfunding K-12 public education so that "surplus" tax revenues can be spent on new programs and entitlements that are not constitutionally mandated. If the Governor and the State would like to change the State's spending priorities, they must do so with a Constitutional Amendment. California's new LCFF law, as currently written (with a base grant of $6,500 per pupil, and limiting increases in per pupil funding to 2007-08 levels + inflation), does not provide sufficient funding to provide any student with a equal opportunity to achieve a quality education as defined by the courts to be: 

"...opportunity to obtain high quality staff, program expansion and variety, beneficial teacher-pupil ratios and class sizes, modern equipment and materials, and high-quality buildings." [Serrano v. Priest II (1976) 18 Cal. 3d 748].

The law is unconstitutional as it violates Article XVI §8 of the California Constitution.

4.     California's 5 Year Infrastructure Plan Violates Article XVI §8 of the California Constitution.


The State of California has shifted it's spending priorities from K-12 Public Education to Transportation aka "High Speed Rail" without amending the California Constitution as evidenced by the State's 2015 Five-Year Infrastructure Plan. 


Source: at page 3


Education spending:


The State's 5-year infrastructure plan does not provide a single penny for K-12 Public Education. 


Source: K-12 Education is discussed at page 50





The Governors infrastructure plan does not allocate any facilities funding for K-12 Public Education stating that it is the intention of the State to provide greater flexibility for Cities, Counties and local school districts to borrow money, or raise taxes to fund K-12 infrastructure projects. The State is taking it's Constitutionally mandated obligation to FIRST fund a K-12 public education system, and placing that responsibility on taxpayers at the local level. This is equivalent to forcing taxpayers to pay multiple times for a service that the State is already Constitutionally mandated to provide. As a result of this policy, taxpayers are facing multiple layers of taxes to pay for K-12 public education while the State has unilaterally shifted its spending priorities without a vote of the people. Such a municipal tax overburden is an unconstitutional violation of Article XVI,  §8 of the California Constitution.

A state's priorities are reflected in the manner in which it chooses to spend it's money. The major priority for the State's 2016 5-Year Infrastructure Plan is to spend $51 Billion of the $55 billion dollars on "Transportation" aka "High Speed Rail". It is unconscionable that the State of California would deny students an opportunity to attend school in high-quality buildings, with modern equipment and materials so that the State can fund what amounts to  a tiny portion of the high speed rail project. A project that will not even service the people in Southern California. 


5.    CUSD students are attending school in overcrowded classrooms, in facilities that are no longer safe, with staff to student ratios that are not safe.


Deferred Maintenance


During the economic downturn, the State allowed Districts to use Deferred Maintenance Funds for General Fund purposes. According to the CUSD's Facilities Master Plan developed in 2009 and updated in 2013, CUSD facilities need $822 million in repairs and maintenance. CUSD currently had $44.9 million for facilities.


Source: Capistrano Unified Board Presentation "Facilities Funding Report" dated Nov 6th, 2013 at page 11

Source: Facilities Funding Report November 6, 2013 


CUSD Deferred Maintenance Fund


Source: at page 713













CUSD currently has $49,085,402.53 in Reserves


Source: at page 670



New Construction


CUSD will need to build a new K- 8 School for Rancho Mission Viejo development that is slated to be open in 2016 and have the capacity to serve between 1,200 and 1,600 students.


Source: March 2, 2009 Special Meeting: Facilities Work Shop Agenda Item # 1, 2, 3, and WLC Architects Inc. Presentation  


Source: Board Audio of the August 14, 2013 Board Meeting - Public Comments- RE: leaking roof at SC High with Rats Falling from the Ceiling. at 15 minutes


Source: April 22, 2015 Board of Trustees Meeting Agenda Item #4 Capistrano Unified School District Facilities project Up-dates


Source: Board Audio April 22, 2015 Board of Trustees Meeting at 1 hour 36 minutes 40 seconds


The State's failure and refusal to provide funding for K-12 facilities in it's 2015 5-year Master Facilities Plan is a violation of Article XVI §8 of the California Constitution.