Supt. Tom Torlakson told members of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee that state policymakers should move “carefully” in considering the significant changes in public education funding allocations that the governor proposed in his “Local Control Funding Formula.”
“As difficult as things have been financially, schools have been doing amazing things,” the schools chief told Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the committee chair, and the other panel members.
During his Thursday testimony, the superintendent also told lawmakers that a large number of school districts were still in fiscal difficulties -- “qualified financial status” is the term of art -- and that no district should have to cut its funding in the wake of voters’ approval of Proposition 30. He thanked the governor and voters for their financial support for public education, but cautioned that it would take years for schools to fully recover from $20 billion worth of cuts.
Supt. Torlakson commended the governor for making repayment of funds owed to schools a high priority, including $1.8 billion in repayments that are part of his 2013-2014 budget proposal.
While he “welcome[d] the opportunity to improve transparency and increase local control,” the schools chief called for a phase-in of changes. He noted that the resolution of a “wide range of policy issues” would be necessary before he would fully support the governor’s local control funding formula.
These included issues relating to the governor’s proposal to change the relationship of adult education and K-12, something the governor has proposed severing by moving adult education into the community college system.
The superintendent also called on policymakers to think through what role the state should play in maintaining accountability in the governor’s proposed funding model.
Supt. Torlakson also declared that California needs “to set a long-range larger goal than that discussed here in the governor’s budget and proposals” in terms of providing long-term adequate funding.
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