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Scope and Methodology
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee (Audit Committee) directed the California State Auditor to select three large school districts and review information related to these districts’ LCFF funding, LCAPs, and measurement of educational success. Table A lists the objectives that the Audit Committee approved and the methods we used to address them.
|1||Review and evaluate the laws, rules, and regulations significant to the audit objectives.||Reviewed relevant laws, rules, and regulations.|
Regarding LCFF, perform the following steps to the extent possible:
a. Identify and evaluate each school district’s methodology for distributing and spending LCFF funding on its students or at its schools.
b. For at least three fiscal years, examine each district’s total LCFF funding and expenditures and assess how they have changed over time under LCFF.
c. Determine for each school district and a selection of schools within each district the LCFF funding and expenditures by LCFF category and for English learners, youth in foster care, and those from households with low incomes, and determine whether the expenditures are appropriate.
|3||Regarding LCAPs, perform the following steps:
a. Identify and assess the goals within each district’s accountability plan or elsewhere that are aimed at raising student achievement, especially those goals intended to benefit English learners, youth in foster care, and those from households with low incomes.
b. Review and assess whether each district’s most recent LCAP complies with applicable legal requirements, especially those requirements associated with measuring achievement and with helping students who are members of groups associated with chronically low academic achievement.
c. Make any necessary recommendations for improving accountability plans and student achievement levels, including, if warranted, additional goals that would be helpful to ensure improved achievement levels of these student groups.
Regarding the measurement of educational success, perform the following steps:
a. Identify and evaluate the measurements and measurement tools that each school district uses to assess success in educating its students, including English learners, youth in foster care, and those from households with low incomes.
b. Determine whether additional measurements would help the districts better ensure student success.
|5||Review and assess any other issues that are significant to the audit.||
Sources: Analysis of the Audit Committee’s audit request number 2019‑101, as well as information and documentation identified in the table column titled Method.
Assessment of Data Reliability
The U.S. Government Accountability Office, whose standards we are statutorily obligated to follow, requires us to assess the sufficiency and appropriateness of computer‑processed information we use to support our findings, conclusions, or recommendations. In performing this audit, we relied on reports we obtained from CDE’s online LCFF Funding Snapshots, Dashboard, DataQuest, and California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) systems. We used reports from the LCFF Funding Snapshots to identify the amounts of LCFF funding that districts received. Because the LCFF amounts in the Funding Snapshots for fiscal years 2015–16 through 2018–19 materially agreed with the LCFF revenue amounts included in the audited financial statements for the three districts we visited, we determined that the Funding Snapshots were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this audit.
We used the reports from the other three systems—Dashboard, DataQuest, and CAASPP—to identify educational outcome information for certain student groups. We concluded that reports from these systems were of undetermined reliability. We did not perform an assessment of the reports from the Dashboard and DataQuest systems because the supporting documentation is maintained among California’s approximately 1,000 school districts, making accuracy and completeness testing impractical. To gain some assurance for these systems, we reviewed other information related to the educational outcomes of California’s students and found that it corroborated CDE’s data. In addition, we did not perform an assessment of the CAASPP reports because the system is paperless. We also did not perform a review of the controls over the system that produced these reports because of the significant resources required to conduct such an analysis. Although we recognize that any limitations that we identified in the reports may affect the precision of the numbers we present, there is sufficient evidence in total to support our audit findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
Finally, we tried to use data from the accounting systems of the three districts we visited; however, the districts do not consistently track LCFF funding in their accounting systems, as we explain in the Audit Results, and thus we could not rely on them for our audit work. Instead, we relied on each district’s LCAP for the expenditure information it reported. This information is of undetermined reliability.
Trends of LCFF Funding
As the Introduction indicates, the State phased in full funding under LCFF over several years, increasing the amount of funds it apportioned to districts to close the gap between actual funding and the target funding level that state law establishes. CDE’s data show that when the State implemented LCFF in fiscal year 2013–14, it allocated local educational agencies about $40 billion, or just over 70 percent of the total target apportionment. The State increased funding levels in each year that followed until it fully funded LCFF for school districts in fiscal year 2018–19. In that year, it allocated a total of more than $62 billion in LCFF funding, of which districts received nearly $55 billion. Table B presents LCFF funding information for the three selected districts (Clovis Unified, Oakland Unified, and San Diego Unified) from fiscal years 2013–14 through 2018–19.
|Clovis Unified LCFF Funding Over Time|
|Total LCFF Funded*||$247,330,886||$275,018,846||$312,784,355||$335,191,456||$346,147,226||$372,565,134|
|Total Supplemental Budgeted in LCAP||Unknown||8,833,000||17,864,615||23,139,241||25,532,165||29,585,921|
|Total Supplemental Expenditures in LCAP||2,700,000||8,252,783||18,118,972||23,267,119||25,713,144||29,272,423|
|Difference Between Budget and Expenditures in LCAP||Unknown||($580,217)||$254,357||$127,878||$180,979||($313,498)|
|Oakland Unified LCFF Funding Over Time|
|Total LCFF Funded*||$250,522,241||$281,576,262||$320,304,135||$337,219,507||$343,123,790||$359,487,786|
|Total Supplemental and Concentration Budgeted in LCAP||10,000,000||17,135,948||52,470,141||67,267,837||69,935,710||77,058,564|
|Total Supplemental and Concentration Expenditures in LCAP||Unknown||Unknown||60,811,151||66,543,225||65,912,750||75,089,930|
|Difference Between Budget and Expenditures in LCAP||Unknown||Unknown||$8,341,010||($724,612)||($4,022,960)||($1,968,634)|
|San Diego Unified LCFF Funding Over Time|
|Total LCFF Funded*||$698,200,252||$779,743,332||$867,204,734||$893,104,625||$909,605,442||$948,944,564|
|Total Supplemental and Concentration Budgeted in LCAP||Unknown||52,000,000||95,300,000||120,879,000||127,030,626||128,089,241|
|Total Supplemental and Concentration Expenditures in LCAP||20,400,000||52,000,000||96,986,200||121,173,699||123,521,697||128,089,240|
|Difference Between Budget and Expenditures in LCAP||Unknown||–||$1,686,200||$294,699||($3,508,929)||($1)|
Source: Analysis of CDE’s LCFF principal apportionment data and districts’ LCAPs for fiscal years 2014–15 through 2018–19.
* Total LCFF does not include add‑on funding that districts received through the Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant program, the Home‑to‑School Transportation program, and the Small School District Transportation program.