Changes to School Attendance Funding Would Help Largest Districts, Report Says

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would alter the attendance-based funding system for school districts, with supplemental funding for enrollment if districts work to address absenteeism. A report from the Public Policy Institute of California notes the shift “would be a financial boon to districts currently struggling with poor attendance.” As it turns out, those districts tend to be larger with a large number of high needs students.

The majority of California school districts have attendance rates between 90% and 95%, according to PPIC. Those where attendance is lagging tend to be big. Los Angeles Unified attendance is around 77.5% of enrollment. In fact, four of the twelve largest districts in the state have attendance levels under 80%. In the case of Los Angeles Unified, a change to the attendance formula could mean a 22.5% increase in funding or over $1 billion more.

According to PPIC, the districts that have attendance problems also have more high needs learners and higher shares of Black and Latino students.

As for the smaller districts without much of an attendance problem, PPIC had this to say about the impact of the change:

“Districts with high attendance levels would see less of an increase—and may stand to lose some funding if the dollars devoted to enrollment-based funding are not supplemental but instead crowd out existing state K–12 education spending.”


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