Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Implementation: Early Lessons From the Field

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) represents a fundamental transformation of the way California allocates state funds to school districts and the ways the state expects districts to make decisions about (and report on) the use of these funds. This California Collaborative on District Reform brief identifies some early lessons about how best to use the new system to meet student needs, especially the traditionally underserved. It highlights key areas that merit attention from California education stakeholders, as well as issues of communication around priorities and expectations that can help support the successful enactment of the new funding policy.

A central motivation for the creation of LCFF was the desire to allocate resources more equitably in California schools. Early experiences from district leaders in the California Collaborative on District Reform suggest that the new policy does, in fact, free them to act more coherently to meet the needs of underserved students. Moreover, reflections from district leaders indicate that LCFF has genuinely affected approaches to planning and resource allocation in California Collaborative member districts.

These leaders reported reexamining existing strategies rather than simply repackaging prior approaches to meet the requirements of the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) template. (Examples include collecting and reporting new forms of data—such as middle school dropouts and suspensions—and explicitly targeting services to foster youth for the first time.) These districts are not using the LCAP as merely an exercise in compliance, but rather as a tool to aid in the process of continuous reflection and improvement.

This is the first in a series of short briefs that aims to capture some key themes emerging from the LCAP development process, including some of the key challenges that California educators still need to address as they work to fulfill the promise of the new funding system. It identifies some early lessons that emerged from an April 2014 meeting of the California Collaborative and previews some of the topics that will be explored in more detail through subsequent briefs.