School Funding

How San Carlos schools are funded, and how SCEF helps bridge the gap.

Understanding How Our San Carlos Schools Are Funded

The San Carlos School District is a state-funded (LCFF) district. However, this state funding only accounts for 75% of what our schools need to be successful. Nearly 25% of the funding for our district comes from local sources – property taxes, local parcel taxes, and parent and community donations through SCEF and school PTAs.

Maintaining the high standards for education we expect for our students is a community effort.

What Does It Mean to Be State (LCFF) Funded?

The state of California determines if a district is to be LCFF or Community Funded based on the underlying property tax revenues. The state sets a “per pupil” minimum funding requirement. If a district has enough property tax revenue that it meets this minimum then it is considered to be “Community Funded” and the district receives all of its funding from local property taxes – and has the ability to keep any dollars that exceed the minimum.

If a district does not have enough property tax revenue to be able to fund the “per pupil” minimum mandated by the state then the district is considered to be LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) and is state-funded to that minimum per pupil with no opportunity for the district to keep any extra monies generated by property taxes. In general, Community Funded schools in our area have higher per pupil funding because of this formula (see DISTRICT NAMES, chart below).

At this point in time, San Carlos does not generate enough property tax revenue to qualify to be Community Funded so the majority of San Carlos School District revenue (75%) comes from the state of California in accordance with the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF).

Community-Funded Districts:

  • Previously known as “Basic Aid” Districts.
  • Derive ALL funding from local property taxes.
  • Able to keep property tax dollars that exceed the per pupil minimum set by the state.
  • Often still have foundations that raise money for their schools, and active PTAs that raise money and support programs and activities.

State-Funded Districts (LCFF):

  • State of California funds the minimum amount per pupil, based on enrollment.
  • No ability to keep extra property tax money.
  • In San Carlos, LCFF funds do not match funding of surrounding districts leading to disparities in funding up and down the Peninsula and throughout the state.
  • San Carlos relies on its educational foundation (SCEF) and PTAs to help bridge the gap between state funding and what our schools need.
  • LCFF status is evaluated annually.

This chart illustrates that San Carlos remains one of the lowest funded districts when compared to neighboring communities.

  District Revenue Comps Image

Learn more about why school funding in California - the fifth largest economy in the world and the wealthiest state in our nation - is inadequate by clicking here.


SCEF and PTA - Your Community Partners

State funding is insufficient to meet the needs of students in the 21st century. SCEF, local parcel taxes, and grants provide approximately 25% of funding for the district so that students have opportunities to learn and experience art and music programs, have access to computing devices and online applications, access to mental health professionals and social-emotional programs, and more. There is no doubt our children benefit from smaller class sizes and personalized learning that meets them where they are and helps them exceed standards. San Carlos schools consistently score higher than some of our better-funded, neighboring districts -

PTAs raise funds for school site needs, classroom supplies, teacher stipends, community events, and important advocacy for schools. Learn more about SCEF and PTA and how your support of these important organizations helps schools have what they need to provide enriching programs and exciting experiences for students.

Understanding Budget Development

Our priorities in approaching budget development:

  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Informed decision-making

The district budget is approved every June for the following school year. You can participate in the on-going discussions by attending the School Board meetings where the budget is presented, discussed and revised. In addition, this year, due to Covid-19 related uncertainty, there will likely be revisions to the budget due to state and federal adjustments.

The San Carlos School District budget for the 2020/2021 school year is expected to be allocated as follows:

District Budget Image

During the school district’s budget development process all factors are taken into consideration as information develops from the county, state and larger economic trends. Salary and benefits continue to be the largest expense faced by our district, consuming 82% of all budgeted dollars, in the coming years this number is expected to increase. You can learn more about the budget here -

Budget Advisory Committee

To plan next year and beyond, and to ensure community involvement, the Superintendent has an ad hoc Budget Advisory Committee made up of teachers, parents, administrators and other community members who work together to synthesize information and make recommendations about budget priorities. Information regarding this committee and budget development is available at -

The San Carlos School District strives to have a transparent budgeting process, encouraging parents to understand how the district is funded, what affects funding, and how and why decisions are made.