Understanding the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)

“Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.”
– Gov. Jerry Brown


What is the Local Control Funding Formula?

lcff_image2-200x149Enacted in 2013, California’s new school funding formula, dubbed the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), is a significant and historic shift toward a simpler, more rational and equitable school finance system.  The new law aims to improve outcomes by providing more resources to meet the education needs of low-income students, English language learners and foster youth. The law also provides more autonomy to local districts by giving them greater flexibility over how they choose to spend state funding.

In exchange for greater flexibility, school districts must provide greater transparency to local communities on how the money will be spent by producing a 3-year spending and academic plan called the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP).

Local communities now have a greater role in shaping local spending and program decisions. The law requires ongoing engagement of parents and students in developing district plans.

In the LCAP, a district must set goals across 8 holistic state priority areas, describe what services it will provide to achieve its goals and state how those services will be funded. The district must update its plan annually to report on whether it adhered to its plan and what progress it has made towards its goals.

Scroll down to see LCFF Resource Documents and Latest Updates
For a brief Q&A on LCFF, see here

How does LCFF work?



Before LCFF, the state determined how districts spent educational dollars through a complex system of 50+ restricted “categorical” programs. Districts received additional general fund spending based on student attendance, but per pupil spending varied widely among districts based on historical funding patterns. LCFF collapsed most categorical programs and the general funding into one big pot to be distributed based on a simple formula.

With the exception of a few remaining categorical funds, money will go directly to districts based on student attendance. Each district will receive the same base grant for each student based on grade level. Then, the district will receive additional “supplemental” and “concentration” grants based on the numbers and concentration of high-need students (defined as low-income, English language learner, or foster youth under the law). Thus, a district that serves more high-need students will receive more funding overall than a district of the same size that serves fewer high-need students.
A district must explain in its local spending plan how its use of supplemental and concentration funds will “increase or improve services” for high-need students “in proportion to the increase in” supplemental and concentration funds it receives.

The transition to LCFF began in the 2013-14 school year and will be phased in gradually until full implementation, which is projected for 2020-21.

Public Advocates & Community Partners’ Impact on the Law

In 2012, when Governor Brown proposed a weighted student funding formula, Public Advocates and our community partners were early and vocal supporters of the proposal. Public Advocates and our community partners were among the first to support LCFF and urge the legislature and governor to work together to make it happen. Our frequent presence in Sacramento together with finance-fluent youth and parents enabled us to help shape the law’s development.We worked closely with the Brown administration to embed the principle of fiscal accountability in the use of weighted funds to ensure that disadvantaged students were the primary beneficiaries of the “supplemental and concentration” funding they generated, to make parent and community engagement a priority for all schools, and to modify other key provisions.

During implementation, Public Advocates has been a key leader, drafter and negotiator in the successful push to ensure that State Board regulations governing LCFF require funds generated by low-income students, English learners and foster youth are used to improve programs and services for them and define a key role for parents, students and the community in local decision making.

The Road Ahead for “Local Control”

To make real the true promise of “local control,” local communities across the state must be actively engaged in shaping local spending decisions in ways that advance student achievement for all, including those in poverty, English Learners and foster youth. These students will now have more resources available to them to meet their needs.

But much works needs to be done to ensure our school funding is not only fair, but adequate in its level of support. Public Advocates will continue pushing for increased state funding for public schools so that it becomes truly adequate through the groundbreaking school funding case, Campaign for Quality Education v. California. As long as we remain 46th out of 50 states in per pupil funding and dead last in adult-to-student ratios, California will not be able to ensure all students receive the education they need to succeed as citizens of the 21st century, no matter how equitably our dollars are distributed.

Key LCFF Resource Documents

Latest Updates

Keeping the Promise of LCFF in Charter Schools, published August 2018, updated November 15, 2018. By Rigel Massaro, Senior Staff Attorney

Keeping the Promise of LCFF: Key Findings & Recommendations After Two Years of LCFF Implementation , April 2016 by Angelica Jongco, Senior Staff Attorney

Keeping the Promise of LCFF in Districts Serving Less than 55% High-Need Students , May 2016 by Roxanne H. Alejandre, Volunteer Attorney and Rigel Massaro, Staff Attorney

Sacramento County Office of Education and Public Advocates Team Up to Train School Districts, December 16, 2015, Erin Paxson, Public Advocates Law Clerk

In Exchange for Local Flexibility, Accountability Plans Will Require Work, November 24, 2015,  John Affeldt, Managing Attorney

6 School Districts and 4 Cities in 12 Days: Back to School with Public Advocates, September 22, 2015, Angelica Jongco, Senior Staff Attorney

Learning a Lesson on Empowerment from Oakland Students, July 21, 2015, Matthew Sellers and Francis Yao, Public Advocates summer Education Team Law Clerks

7 Steps to Size Up Your School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan
, April 27, 2015, Angelica Jongco, Senior Staff Attorney

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