It's no secret that Los Altos Schools across the board hit one out of the park this year with the STAR testing scores. But did you know that our schools might not get all of the funding promised by the State of California for those outstanding scores? According to a memo from the Santa Clara Office of Education there is not enough in the budget to pay the $150 per pupil that our students earned with those stratospheric scores.
Los Altos schools have had their share of budget shortfalls this year as the school board struggles to deliver twice as much new construction as there is money. For the STAR testing, $227 million was set aside by the State to pay all of the schools which were able to improve their overall scores by a full percentage point.
Los Altos delivered, as did 4,000 other schools and now there is just not enough to go around.
In Los Altos, the dollars earned through the program are delivered to each school's site council. As an example, Almond Elementary has 558 students currently. At the original $150 per student the Almond site council would have received $83,700.00. But with the new figure, $68.00 per student, the site council will only realize $37,944.00.
As difficult as it is to accept the cut in reward this year, the real irony may come next year when, in order to receive a bump in the program money, schools must increase their scores again by a full percentage point. Los Altos schools are tracking at almost perfect scores already, all in the
900's. School Board Member Margo Harrigon worries about the price of our success. "The scores are so high that if one good student has a bad day the overall score will be affected." A dip in the scores translates to a lateral move in the funding number. However, the funding goes up by the same amount whether the score increases by one percentage point or 26 as Santa Rita delivered this year.
With so little margin for error in next year's scores it might be time to start baking Ginkgo Biloba brownies for all those lunch sacks.
For more information about the STAR testing visit: www.cde.ca.gov.
For more information about Los Altos schools and scores visit: www.losaltos.k12.ca.us.