Friday, January 10, 2014

California budgets and schools

by Duane Campbell
On January 9, California  Governor Brown proposed a budget for the 2014/2015 fiscal year.  It will be subject to changes until July 1 when it should pass and become the state budget.
The California Budget Project describes one of the major issues for schools.
1.     The Governor’s proposed budget eliminates outstanding obligations to K-12 school districts and increases funding for the state’s new education funding formula. Specifically, the Governor’s proposed budget:
o   ·  Eliminates $5.6 billion in outstanding debt owed to schools. The Governor’s proposed budget provides more than $2.2 billion in 2014-15, and $3.3 billion in 2012-13 and 2013-14 combined, to repay previously deferred payments to K-12 school districts, which reached $9.5 billion at the end of 2011-12.
o   ·  Provides $4.5 billion to continue implementation of the state’s new education funding formula. As part of the 2013-14 budget agreement, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) restructured the state’s education finance system. The LCFF provides school districts a base grant per student, adjusted to reflect the number of students at various grade levels, as well as additional grants for the costs of educating English learners, students from low-income families, and foster youth. The Governor’s proposed budget provides $4.5 billion to fund LCFF grants for K-12 school districts and charter schools in 2014-15, and $25.9 million to fund LCFF grants for county offices of education – all of which include cost-of-living adjustments.

What does this mean for you and I.  First, this is not a gift.  These allocations are required repayments to the schools for debts owed under Prop. 98.
How will this budget be allocated? Most of this is up to the individual school districts and boards of education.  As you know school budgets were devastated by the economic crisis and these “deferred payments” made it worse.  Now, how to rebuild.

We, the people, passed Prop. 30 in 2012 to adequately fund the schools.  School funding has not been restored- yet. California currently ranks 49th. of the 50 states in counselors per student, 49th. in students per classroom,   and 50 of the 50 states in librarians per student.
Teachers and public school advocates should argue to first provide adequate class size and  counselors  and librarians for the existing schools.  They should restore an environment for teaching and learning. Note the inadequate class sizes and the lack of counselors preceded the economic crisis. Then, districts  should provide social workers for all low income schools to develop programs to lower the drop out rates.
It will be a difficult battle to restore and improve learning conditions for all students. There is much to do.
For detailed analysis of the entire budget, see www.cbp.org



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