California school funding: striving for equity in an uneven landscape

A new funding formula is sending California school districts extra state money to support low-income students and those who are disadvantaged for other reasons. In 2015, more than half the state’s districts reported that a majority of their students were low-income.

Below, a comparison reveals that the most affluent districts benefit from local tax revenue generous enough to cover relatively high per-pupil spending levels. These districts can also receive limited state and federal aid. For poorer districts dependent on the state, the new formula won’t close all spending gaps, but per-student spending in some poorer districts has risen dramatically in just the first two years of the new formula.

You can compare spending and other data for any of about 1,000 districts in California using our interactive below. High per-pupil spending in isolated and small poor districts often is due to special support from the state needed to function.