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At the heart of how California doles out tax dollars to its public schools is average daily attendance: Each school’s per-student allocation is decreased for each day a student misses classes.

But that may change. In a story Thursday, Capital Weekly reports that state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Alta Dena, wants payments to be based on average monthly enrollment:

Scott insists the plan is not an attempt to spike education funding. Rather, he says, it’s simply a way to lighten the bookkeeping load on local schools and create a more logical system of public-school finance.

Critics of the plan, including officials from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, contend that monthly funding would eliminate incentive for schools to make sure their students attend class every day. They also warn that the change could cost the state billions, though Scott says the plan would “revenue-neutral.”

How the issue is decided could be critical for San Diego Unified School District, which is struggling to balance its books in the face of falling student enrollment.

VLADIMIR KOGAN

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