In response to sizeable budget shortfalls, lawmakers have repeatedly cut state spending in recent years. The Legislature reduced General Fund spending from $103.0 billion in 2007-08 to $87.3 billion in 2009-10 – a drop of 15.3 percent – as policymakers responded to the dramatic decline in revenues caused by the most severe economic downturn since the 1930s. In 2010-11, General Fund spending is estimated to be lower as a share of the state’s economy than in 33 of the prior 40 years, and expenditures will be lower under the spending plan approved by the Legislature in March. Recent cuts have reversed longstanding policies and have left public systems and programs ill-equipped to cope with the ongoing impact of the Great Recession and the challenges of a growing population and an ever-more-competitive global economy.
This fact sheet examines the local impact of reductions to public school general purpose dollars, also known as revenue limit funding, between 2007-08 and 2009-10.1 Statewide general purpose funding was cut by $3.5 billion (10.5 percent) during that period, a reduction of $645 per student. This analysis excludes reductions to state spending other than those to general purpose funding. The analysis also excludes school districts with 1,000 students or less and so-called “basic-aid“ districts that receive all revenue limit funds through local property tax revenue.2
Lawmakers cut the overall annual funding level for K-12 public schools by $6.3 billion, from $50.3 billion in 2007-08 to $44.1 billion in 2009-10.3 Lawmakers cut schools’ general purpose dollars as well as funds earmarked for specific school programs, often referred to as categoricals. Adding to schools’ financial stress, since 2008-09 the state has also deferred $6.3 billion in payments to schools. The delay in payments forced many school districts to borrow and pay interest on loans or make program cuts.
1 This analysis uses the terms “general purpose dollars” and “revenue limit funds” interchangeably. The analysis calculates cuts to schools through 2009-10 as it is the most recent year for which data are available. 2 This analysis excludes school districts with average daily attendance (ADA) of 1,000 students or less because many districts with small numbers of students receive an additional “Necessary Small Schools” allowance that can cause distortions when calculating changes to revenue limit funding. The analysis also excludes basic-aid districts because changes to state revenue limit funding do not affect them since they do not receive general purpose dollars from the state. 3 The guaranteed minimum funding level for public education is also known as the Proposition 98 guarantee.How have schools responded to budget cuts? Recent statewide surveys indicate that the impact has been dramatic. A survey by the Legislative Analyst’s Office found that:
More than half (58 percent) of responding school districts reduced their number of instructional days in 2010-11 compared to 2008-09 and 30 percent shortened their school year by a week;
Nearly half (48 percent) of schools ended their ninth grade class size reduction programs; and More than one-fourth (26 percent) eliminated programs supported by arts and music grants.
A University of California at Los Angeles survey of high school principals found that:
Nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of respondents reported increasing class sizes; Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents reported reducing or eliminating summer school; and One-half (50 percent) of respondents reported reducing the number of counselors, in a state that already has
nearly the most students per counselor in the nation.
Read the entire report http://cbp.org/pdfs/2011/110607_K12_Cuts_by_District.pdf