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School Finance Chronology

Last updated March 25, 2014

    1968 Serrano v. Priest

    Lawsuit challenging the fairness of California's system for funding K-12 education.

    1972 SB 90

    Established revenue limits, a ceiling on the amount of general purpose money each school district may receive.

    1976 Serrano v. Priest

    The California Supreme Court ruling that the school finance system was inequitable.

    1977 AB 65

    Long term funding bill in response to the Serrano court decision.

    1978 Proposition 13

    Constitutional amendment limiting property tax rates and increases.

    1979 AB 8

    The funding method for schools after Proposition 13, with a new formula for dividing property taxes. Granted larger inflation increases to low spending districts, the "Serrano squeeze."

    1979 Gann Limit

    Constitutional limit on governmental spending at all levels, including school districts.

    1983 SB 813

    Major school improvement law, including mentor teachers, longer school day/year, higher beginning teachers’ salaries, more rigorous graduation requirements, and statewide curriculum standards.

    1984 Lottery

    Constitutional amendment creating the California State Lottery, with a designated percentage of earnings for education.

    1988 Proposition 98

    Constitutional amendment that guarantees a minimum level of funding for K-14 education (amended by Proposition 111 in 1990).

    1996 SB 1777

    Created incentives to reduce K-3 class sizes.

    2000 Proposition 20

    Constitutional amendment requiring half of growth in lottery money be used for instructional materials.

    2000 Proposition 39

    Constitutional amendment permitting a 55% yes vote for approval of local General Obligation bonds.

    2000 Williams v. California

    A lawsuit charging that California is not providing basic educational necessities for all students. Settled in 2004. The settlement also resulted in changes to the School Accountability Report Card (SARC) template that all schools must update and publish annually to include information on facilities, teacher misassignments and vacant teacher positions, and the availability of textbooks or instructional materials.

    2008-09 Categorical Flexibility

    In response to the economic crisis and to mitigate deep cuts to education, lawmakers enacted mid-year changes that granted schools more flexibility in how they spent categorical funds. SBX3 4 (Chapter 12, Statutes of 2009) allowed districts to use the money from 39 categorical programs for "any educational purpose" through 2012-13. It also reduced the penalties for exceeding class size limits for schools receiving funds for K-3 Class Size Reduction.

    This flexibility was later extended through 2014-15 by Senate Bill 70, Chapter 7/Statutes of 2011. For more information, please see our categorical aid article.

    2013 Local Control Funding Formula

    On July 1, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a significant overhaul of the state's school finance system. The new "Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)" will eliminate most of the state's categorical programs, providing instead a base grant for every student enrolled plus 20 percent more funding for every English learner, low-income child and foster youth. Those districts in which high-needs students comprise at least 55 percent of the student body will get  more money for a portion of those students. To learn more, please see: Understanding the Local Control Funding Formula.

    All contents copyright © 2015, Education Data Partnership. All rights reserved.

    Ed-Data is a partnership of the California Department of Education, EdSource and the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) designed to offer educators, policy makers, the legislature, parents, and the public quick access to timely and comprehensive data about K-12 education in California.