Local school officials are somewhat happy Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal calls for an increase in education funding, but are still waiting for the final version and believe there could be more done for public schools.
“I’m thrilled with the additional funding to education,” said Carrie Du Bois, trustee for the Sequoia Union High School District. “It’s much needed. California still has a long way to go for funding, but I’m thrilled the governor understands the importance of public education.”
Brown’s $154.9 billion budget proposal includes almost $61.6 billion for K-12 schools. That’s an increase of $14.4 billion in education spending from the 2011-12 fiscal year and an increase of $6.3 billion over the 2013 budget level. For K-12 schools, funding levels would increase by $3,410 per student through 2017-18, including an increase of more than $2,188 per student in 2014-15 over 2011-12 levels, according to the proposed budget.
Reflecting the recent significant increases in Proposition 98 funding, total per pupil expenditures from all sources are projected to be $11,985 in 2013-14 and $12,833 in 2014-15, including funds provided for prior year settle-up obligations. Ongoing K-12 Proposition 98 per pupil expenditures in the budget are $9,194 in 2014-15, up from the $8,469 per pupil provided in 2013-14 and the $7,006 provided in 2011-12.
Other local school officials were not so pleased with the proposed budget. Philip Weise, trustee for the South San Francisco Unified High School District, said the budget will hurt basic aid districts, those which fund their revenue limit entirely through property taxes and receive no general purpose state aid.
“It’s going to hurt the district to tune of $8 million because our district is a basic aid district and there’s not very many districts like that in California,” he said. “There’s been an effort in the state to punish basic aid districts. One of the ways they do that is withholding payback to us. It’s very unfair to the students in our district.”
Ted Lempert, San Mateo County Board of Education trustee, agreed there are still places for improvement for funding education in the state.
“Additional investment in K-12 is very needed,” he said. “We still have a ways to go to be competitive with other states and unfortunately there’s insufficient funding for early learning and child care.”
There is an effort in the state Legislature to make transitional kindergarten available for all 4-year-olds with Senate Bill 837, the Kindergarten Readiness Act.
Other school officials agreed with Lempert about needing an inclusion of early education matters in the budget, including Seth Rosenblatt, trustee for the San Carlos Elementary School District.
“It’s good news more money is available for education,” he said. “I appreciate the devil is in the details and there’s many steps before it’s finalized. I do hope they include transitional kindergarten as part of the proposal.”
Shelley Viviani, lead negotiator for the San Mateo County Educators Association, said it looks as though the increase in funding to schools is going to be relativity significant. She still sees the amount of money going to education in California as deficient compared to other states.
Meanwhile, the state superintendent of education was satisfied with the proposed budget.
“This budget builds upon California’s recommitment to ensuring that every child graduates with the tools they need to succeed in the society and economy they will find outside their classrooms,” Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement. “Per pupil spending continues to climb — with additional funding for the most vulnerable of our students under the Local Control Funding Formula. And schools face the prospect of starting the next school year with billions of dollars of deferrals finally repaid.”
To read the complete proposed budget, visit ebudget.ca.gov.
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