Serrano Case Study

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Describe the key issues related to the Serrano v. Priest decision. What did the court decide? What action did the State take following the court’s decision?

In 1968 a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Mr. Serrano in the Superior Courts of Los Angeles. Serrano claimed the funding system for California schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, as well as the Equal Protection clause in the California Constitution. At the time of the Serrano case, per pupil spending varied greatly from school district to school district. Baldwin Park School District, the district where Serrano’s children were in attendance, had an average per pupil expenditure of around $500 while Beverly Hills School District’s average
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Why was this proposition so important to public education in California? What element in the proposition requires a written report to parents in the school community?

Proposition 98 was a landmark proposition narrowly passed by California voters in 1988. This proposition required K-12 education to be funded by at least a minimum percentage of the state budget. Additionally, Proposition 98 provides a yearly increase in funding for California Schools. The “minimum percentage” is based on three tests.

Test 1 provided the baseline, and was directed at the 1988/1989 budget. Test 1 required education spending to comprise at least 39% of the state budget. Test 2 is a provision for years when the economic growth of the state is strong. Test 2 requires education spending to begin with the previous years spending, and adds per capita growth and student enrollment adjustments to the amount to create the new percentage of funding. In years of weak economic growth, Test 3 provides for the guarantee of the prior years spending and an adjustment for enrollment growth. Funding under test 3 provisions, may also increase for any improvement in per capita general fund revenues. The law does however guarantee that if the funding is underestimated or any year, the state is then required to make up for the
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There is a 1 million dollar limit on transfers if the residence is not the principal residence, but there is no limitation on the owner’s principal residence.

Do you believe the LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) is better than the old system of funding public schools in California? Explain.

I believe the LCFF is superior to the old system of funding public schools. Prior to LCFF nearly one-third of district revenue was tied to “categorical programs.” If a particular school district did not have an identified need within that categorical program funding allocation, they would still spend money on the program since the funding could not be allocated to other areas of direct need. I believe this caused wasteful spending. LCFF allows districts greater freedom (and accountability) to direct funds to locally identified areas of need and priority.

I am also encouraged to see LCFF promoting class size reduction. The economic downturn caused many districts, including my own, to abandon class size reduction in the primary grades. I hope that through the LCFF funding process we can soon see that effort

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