Three Little Pigs

The “three little pigs” — Meals for Needy Pupils, Continuation School funding and Unemployment Insurance reimbursement — enrich some California school districts while stiffing others. The Sacramento Bee tries to explain the inexplicable.

Through the meals funding calculation, the Taft Union High School District in Kern County received $14,000 more for every student, while Newark Unified in Alameda County got 77 cents.

Under the Continuation Schools adjustment, the data showed two dozen districts received $10,000 to $100,000 more for each of their continuation students, while another two dozen districts received $50 or less for each teenager in the same kind of school. For Unemployment Insurance, the statewide range per student was $1 to $113.

. . . “We used to call those the Three Little Pigs,” said Rick Simpson, the Assembly’s veteran education consultant. The point to the nickname was that these were odd calculations that did not constitute big enough pieces of the budget for anyone in power to worry about.

Capitol insiders have another term for what they consider inconsequential aspects to state spending: “Budget Dust.”

Nobody really understands California school finance, concludes The Bee’s excellent Paying for Schools series. Gov. Schwarzenegger wants to consolidate all the special funding and special programs to help solve the budget mess. If he can achieve that, he’ll be a real action hero.

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