Untold story is the state’s school funding formula
On the field, Torrey Pines is our archrival. We delight in victories over and mourn losses against them, but take no delight in their recent treatment in the press.
A critical fact, ignored in the May 14 San Diego Union-Tribune article, is the state’s school funding formula. California’s funding model provides the least funding to districts like ours. As a result, the SDUHSD receives the lowest funding per student of all high school districts in California: $18 million less than the average high school district, $25 million less than Escondido, $17 million less than Grossmont, and $13 million less than Sweetwater.
Despite low income housing across the street from several district schools, the funding formula provides $1,431 less each year for each student regardless of their socioeconomic status.
California intentionally shifts the funding burden to our parents!
With $18 million less in funding, our district cannot fund athletics, arts or after-school programs, maintenance of baseball fields, or stadium bathrooms, or transportation, or game officials, or gym lightbulbs, maintenance of the weight room, or uniforms, or balls, bats, or paint, clay, or computers.
The total revenue of all four district foundations falls far short of $18 million per year, providing less than 30 percent of the shortfall.
Yet, many of our district’s schools are nationally recognized. How does the lowest-funded high school district in California consistently produce the country’s top high schools? Our district is a model of exemplary outcomes achieved on a comparably low budget. If we are ever going to improve educational outcomes in this county, this state, and this nation, highlighting and studying how this district outpaces most others in measurable outcomes on the lowest funding in the state is where the Union-Tribune can make a valuable and transformative contribution to the narrative.
Many district parents pay twice; shouldering a disproportionate amount of the tax burden, funding other districts that California deems more worthy, and voluntarily donating to their own district to make up the difference.
The important, untold, story is this peculiar statewide school funding system, not the Torrey Pines baseball team or the foundation that supports it. Without these dedicated and generous parents, there would be no school sports, arts, or extra-curricular activities in our district.
Should we all carefully evaluate how we ask for money? Yes, we should and we will. Additional volunteer training is being planned and implemented.
Should we illuminate the vagaries of the school funding formula in California? Absolutely.
The Union-Tribune should aim their spotlight about 500 miles north onto Sacramento, where the problem starts. We are disappointed that they misdirected it onto our rivals on the playing fields, but our allies in supporting our children: the dedicated parent volunteers, coaches and staff of the Torrey Pines Foundation.
(For the full text of this letter, with accompanying charts, visit ccafoundation.org)
La Costa Canyon Foundation
San Dieguito Academy Foundation
Editor’s Note: The May 14 San Diego Union-Tribune article was also published in this newspaper.