SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown signed sweeping education legislation Monday that changes the state funding formula for K-12 schools in a way that he hopes will help boost the academic achievement of disadvantaged students.
Brown signed the main bill, AB97, and two related bills at Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles.
The Democratic governor has been pushing for the change, known as the "Local Control Funding Formula," and called it a civil rights issue. It will send $2.1 billion more to school districts that have high numbers of students from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency or are foster children.
"Growing up in Compton or Richmond is not like it is to grow up in Los Gatos or Beverly Hills or Piedmont," Brown said in February as he pitched his proposal to lawmakers. "It is controversial, but it is right, and it's fair."
The formula also gives school districts more control over state aid by eliminating earmarks for state-mandated programs. Democratic lawmakers say districts will be responsible for tracking students' success, but Republicans say the spending plan lacks accountability.
The state budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year takes effect Monday and provides about $55.3 billion in local and state revenue for K-12 education and two-year community colleges. That's an increase of more than $8 billion over the 2011-12 level under the state's school funding formula known as Proposition 98.
Brown had initially faced resistance to his proposal from advocates for suburban and wealthier districts but reached a compromise with Democratic leaders last month.
It provides extra money under a so-called concentration grant that will be given to districts in which 55 percent of the students are considered economically disadvantaged, English-learners or are foster children. All schools would receive a higher base grant from the state, a provision meant to placate school districts that do not have high proportions of those students.
California's spending package also calls for $1.2 billion in one-time money for districts to implement the "common core" standards in English and math, which are more academically rigorous and are intended to better prepare students for college and a career.
The money can be spent as districts choose on areas such as teacher training, instructional materials and technology. AB91 and AB86 are the other two bills Brown signed Monday that are related to the education funding changes.
The governor also signed AB94, which provides college grants to middle-income families.
The so-called Middle Class Scholarship will begin in the 2014 academic year and will provide reduced tuition for students whose families earn less than $150,000 a year.
The scholarship would reduce student fees on a sliding scale based on income -- up to 40 percent for families making less than $100,000 and up to 10 percent for families earning $150,000. The appropriation would be capped at $305 million annually once it is fully implemented.
According to the speaker's office, the scholarship would lower college fees from $12,192 to $7,315 at the University of California and from $5,472 to $3,283 at California State University campuses for families making less than $100,000.
The grant was championed by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, after he failed to gain enough legislative support for it last year. Brown's signing of the legislation comes the same day interest rates on federal student loans doubled to 6.8 percent.