In the 2013–2014 school year, the state of California implemented a new equity-minded funding system, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). LCFF increased minimum per-pupil funding for educationally underserved students and provided greater autonomy in allocating resources. We use the implementation of LCFF to enrich our understanding of rural school finance and explore the implications of equity-based school finance reform across urbanicity (i.e., between rural, town, suburban, and urban districts) and between rural areas of different remoteness. Drawing on 15 years of financial data from California school districts, we find variation in the funding levels of rural districts but few differences in the ways resources are allocated and only modest evidence of constrained spending in rural areas. Our results suggest that spending progressivity (i.e., spending advantage of higher-poverty districts) has increased since LCFF, although progressivity is lowest in rural districts by the end of the data panel.
- school finance