22 Jun SB City School District Gets More Money per Student (CA)June 22, 2010
By: James Rufus KorenSource: The Sun
San Bernardino City Unified School District gets much more money per student than most school districts in San Bernardino County, a result, district officials say, of a push to build more schools in the city.
The district in 2007 and 2008 received $15,093 per student, compared to $10,000 to $11,000 most districts received, according to data compiled by California School Finance Center.
Only one district – Baker Valley Unified, with $15,516 – received more money per student. Some districts in the county, including Etiwanda Elementary and Upland Unified, received less than $9,000 per student in the same year, the center found.
But Danny Tillman, president of the SBCUSD Board of Trustees, said if anything, the district is short on resources. San Bernardino students, he said, face poverty, mobility and other issues that make SBCUSD’s job more difficult.
"We put our money to good use," Tillman said. "But is it enough to overcome the circumstances (students face)? By no means."
This year, eleven San Bernardino city schools landed on a list of the state’s lowest performing. District officials pointed out that the district has the poorest students of any large district in the state.
Tillman suspects San Bernardino gets more money than many districts – by the center’s accounting – because it has been building more new schools than most districts and qualifies for more state school-construction money.
"Our district has been very aggressive about going after construction and modernization money," Tillman said. "If we didn’t request that money, it just would have gone to another school district outside of San Bernardino County."
School board member Lynda Savage agreed, saying if a school district is going to get state money to build new schools, "We might as well be the ones first in line."
In the 2007-08 school year, SBCUSD received about $190 million in school construction funds from the state. The district’s total budget that year was $782.3 million.
Removing school construction and modernization money from the School Finance Center’s numbers gives San Bernardino Unified $11,428 per student – much closer to other local districts.
Remove Ontario Montclair’s state-provided construction funding and its total per-student funding dips by just $43, from $10,225 to $10,182. Remove Fontana Unified’s state-provided construction funding and that district’s total dips by just $86 per student, from $10,027 to $9,941.
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Tillman said SBCUSD fell behind in the 1970s, 80s and 90s in building schools.
"When I was elected (to the board) in 1995, we hadn’t built any new schools since 1969," Tillman said. "Now we’re building because of overcrowding."
He said too many of the district’s schools rely on portable classrooms. The district’s goal, he said, is to have enough permanent facilities to get rid of portable classrooms and to have all students on standard calendar.
Many schools now operate year-round to accommodate more students.
Savage said the state has called on the district to build school facilities for another 8,000 students. The district is in the process of building a new high school and has plans for several new elementary schools.
Dave Johnston, director of data management and programming at the Educational Results Partnership, one of the groups behind the School Finance Center, said the center isn’t trying to judge schools based on these numbers.
"That’s still revenue the district receives and, regardless of what they do with it, it’s revenue we’re reporting," he said. "I think the main goal is just to make this information available to everyone."
PER STUDENT SPENDING
San Bernardino city schools received more money per student during the 2007-08 school year than any other district in the county except Baker Valley Unified.
San Bernardino City Unified: $15,093
Rialto Unified: $11,166
Redlands Unified: $10,935& lt;br />
Victor Valley Union High: $10,707
Ontario Montclair Elementary: $10,225
Colton Joint Unified: $10,218
Chaffey Joint Union High: $10,070
Fontana Unified: $10,027
Upland Unified: $8,727
Funding numbers include all local, federal and state funding, including funding designated for school construction and special programs.