California school finance reform and the pursuit of equity using the Local Control Funding Formula: a case study

This purpose of this research study was to determine whether the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) increased the equitable distribution of resources and provided greater local decision-making within a large urban school district. The study was conducted as a mixed method single district case study. The research questions were designed to determine if the implementation of the LCFF had changed the relationship between the number of students receiving free and reduced meals and the amount spent on support services, and whether expenditure patterns changed, or greater flexibility and local decision-making was identifiable after implementation. Site principals and district administrators were also asked to provide challenges and barriers to implementation along with recommendations. The quantitative results relative to increased equitable distribution of resources indicated that the relationship between the district’s students receiving free and reduced meals and the amount spend on support services remained significant after the implementation of LCFF. The qualitative data provided support that increased flexibility and local decision-making had occurred primarily, at the district office level rather than at the school site level. Constraints placed on school site decision-making by district, state, and federal budget policies impacted expenditures through LCFF. The need for additional professional development and guidelines for site administrators in determining LCFF allowable expenditures was recommended. Greater coordination between state and federal guidelines was also recommended in order for the goals of LCFF to be realized.