California School Finance


California state law sets out the system for funding public schools. State leaders largely decide how much money is available to schools each year as part of the state budget process.

In 2013, California adopted a new formula for deciding how much money each school district gets, called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

School districts will decide how to use the funds, but under the new system they must get input from their local communities. They also have to tie their budgets to improvement goals by creating a Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

To learn more, take a look at these fliers from California State PTA. Click to download and share with parents, teachers and your school community.


The new LCFF and LCAPs provide a great opportunity for parents to engage in the decisions that impact their children and schools.

Learn more about what parents and PTA leaders can do to begin making their voice heard in this new process.


California School Funding: Still Almost Dead Last in Nation

For more than three decades, California has funded its public schools below the national average. During the recession that started in 2008 the funding went from bad to worse.

In 2011, California ranked near the bottom in public school expenditures per student, particularly when the numbers are adjusted for this state's relatively high cost of living. A recovering economy and a special tax helped to stabilize funding in 2012-13, but it will be many years before the cuts that were made are restored. Even when the Local Control Funding Formula is fully implemented, school funding will lag behind other states.

In contrast to many states, only a small portion of school funding in California comes from local property taxes. The property tax rate is set at the state level and local school districts can do little to raise revenues on their own.

The federal government also provides a modest portion of school funding—about 10% in most years. Almost all of those funds are earmarked for special purposes like school lunches, special education services for disabled students, and extra support for low-income students.

PTA Advocacy Goal

The California State PTA has as an advocacy goal to help secure "adequate funding for every child's education."

Useful Links on School Finance

Local Control Funding Formula - Allocations & Apportionments (CA Dept of Education)

Projected LCFF funding by School District

EdSource- EdSource was founded in 1977 by a coalition of California State PTA, League of Women Voters, and American Association of University Women. Its purpose is to explain complex education issues.

Ed-Data Partnership - Searchable statistics on school district data such as revenues, student-teacher ratios, and assessment data. Compare districts from the same geographic area or with similar populations.

Legislative Analyst's Office - Public, nonpartisan California government agency that analyzes legislation and ballot measures. Does analysis of all state budget proposals and makes budget recommendations.

California Department of Education (CDE)