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Knowledge From the Field

School Finance Reform

Published: November 2010

Publisher(s): Public Policy Institute of California

Author(s): Weston, Margaret

Funder(s): William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

View Report (19 pages; 8.84MB; PDF)

School Finance Reform

Area of Focus: Educational Standards


This report describes California’s school finance system, reviews its key challenges, and offers principles for reform. It seeks to understand why the system is so widely criticized and explains how simple reforms promoting transparency and student needs could quickly yield positive results.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=Structure incentives properly to prevent funds being awarded to districts that operate contrary to their students’ best interests

=Transparency in funding allows for a clearer evaluation of costs and needs, which in turn allows for more flexible funding

=Equal per-pupil funding rates would improve transparency and eliminate current funding discrepancies based on historical expenditures

=Provide additional revenue to districts, where necessary, based on specific student needs

=Grant districts more power in exchange for higher accountability

Geographic Focus: California

Subjects/Keywords: Reform; school finance; revenue; funding

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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