State Audit: Local Control Funding Needs More Oversight

A new state audit of three large school districts is reviving questions about the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), including how billions of state dollars are being spent and what the state is doing to monitor progress.

California Auditor Elaine Howle examined implementation of LCFF funding — which is meant to improve outcomes for at-risk students — at San Diego Unified, Oakland Unified, and Clovis Unified. In a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, Howle said she “had difficulty determining the extent to which the districts used those funds to increase or improve services for intended student groups” (CalMatters). At least $320 million that was supposed to go to disadvantaged students was identified as money that could be spent on basic district expenses.

The report further flagged a general lack of transparency and specificity as to the use of LCFF funds. And perhaps that’s because the state itself appears to be failing in its oversight role.

“We are particularly concerned that the state does not explicitly require districts to spend their supplemental and concentration funds on the intended student groups or to track their spending of those funds,” Howle’s report reads. “Without a means of tracking how districts use (LCFF) funds, state and local policymakers and other local stakeholders lack adequate information to assess the impact of those funds on the outcomes of intended student groups.”

The districts’ Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs) were hundreds of pages long and difficult to understand.

“The state now has an opportunity to take an important step toward learning more about the effectiveness of billions of dollars that it allocates for K–12 education,” the report says.

Howle’s report lays out a number of recommendations, including improvement of accountability plans.

Read more about the results of the audit and how it is being received here