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School Funding 101

Do you have questions about why our schools never seem to have enough funding? You're not the only one!

Burlingame School District is one of the lowest funded districts in San Mateo County. BSD depends on BCE's grant to provide 5% of its annual budget to pay for programs that wouldn’t otherwise be funded. 

Unlike many states that have sufficient education funding to cover the costs of a well-rounded enriched primary education, California has one of the lowest rates of education funding per student.  CA ranks 43rd in the nation in state funding per pupil, and spent $9,417 per K-12 student in 2018, which is about $3,000 less than the $12,526 per student spent by the nation as a whole.

There are two ways school districts in CA are primarily funded: state funded (LCFF) and property tax funded (Basic Aid). Districts are state funded (LCFF) when their property tax allocation is less than the required state minimum. Burlingame School District is primarily LCFF funded. Some years BSD may flip to be Basic Aid funded but often flips back to be LCFF funded the following year. We sit on the cusp. Some districts are eligible for supplemental state grants based on their enrollment of students identified for special services. Burlingame does not qualify for these.

Prop 13 (passed in 1978) dramatically changed the way CA schools were funded. It capped increases in property taxes and “froze” allocations of each individual’s property tax bill distributed to school districts. Property turnover is necessary for property tax revenues to increase in a meaningful way over time, and property tax revenues have not kept up with the cost to educate our children. 

BCE fundraises annually to help sustain and enhance an exceptional public education for all TK-8th grade students in Burlingame. In collaboration with the school district, BCE sets a fundraising goal before the start of the school year. We raise funds in one fiscal/school year (July 1-June 30) to grant the following fall for the immediate upcoming school year.  Generally, that total amount will allow the district the flexibility to maintain current programs while creating areas for deeper investment. 

The BCE Board of Directors allocates a grant to BSD each September based on the funds we raise during the previous fiscal year. Funding priorities are identified through thoughtful collaboration with BSD’s administration, board of trustees, and information collected through parent surveys and public comments at school board meetings. Final program and funding decisions rest with Burlingame School District’s administrators and our elected school board trustees.

With your continued support, we granted $2.7M to Burlingame School District (BSD) for the 2023-24 school year. This grant provides funding for 20 additional teachers in the areas of music and arts, health and wellness, world language and elementary intervention and support.  The cost of funding 20 teaching positions increases each year, which is why BCE must ask for more each year to maintain support of current BSD programs.

This was our largest grant to date and we are extremely grateful to all the parents, businesses, community members and friends of BCE who contributed to make this possible.  BCE’s grant benefits all students in the district and helps our Burlingame community and schools stay strong and desirable! 

If you are interested in learning more about school funding be sure to check out Jen Faber's new videos on our BCE Instagram.


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