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School Funding More Flexible, But Needs Fixing

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    AP
    Art Clokey, the creator of "Gumby," the bendable creation that became a pop culture phenomenon through countless satires, toys and revivals, died Jan. 8 at the age of 89.

    One potential benefit of the budget crisis? The state has given school districts more flexibility in how they use some state moneys. But a report from the Public Policy Institute of California says that the way that flexibility was put in place was haphazard -- because of the need to address the budget crisis -- and needs to be fixed.

    Among the problems: the new, more flexible system is less transparent and equitable. And the flexibility creates the potential for funds to be gobbled up by teacher salaries and benefits, rather than for student services and materials.

    PPIC recommends that the state consolidate its complicated, multi-piece school funding regime into one, and develop clear criteria to determine whether a particular school funding is flexible. Finally, the report suggests that one way to make programs more flexible -- and more transparent and equitable -- is through block grants. The legislature should be working on school funding now, since the current flexibility provisions expire in four years.

    You can read the full report here.