By Len Feldman
CTA Director Toby Boyd, Sen. Pres. Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg
Reflecting overwhelming voter approval of Proposition 30 in November, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a 2013-14 state budget that would increase funding for K-12 schools and community colleges by more than $4.5 billion, including $1.8 billion in deferred funds owed from earlier years.
The proposed funding raises K-12 per-student spending by $2,700. That means thousands of additional dollars for every classroom in the state.
The plan provides $250 million in increases to each of the state’s higher education systems, California State University and the University of California.
The governor’s budget proposal was unveiled on Jan. 10, the same day Education Week released its annual ranking of the states, which found California had dropped two places to 49th in per-student funding as a result of years of cuts.
“It’s good to see a state budget proposal that begins to turn the tide,” says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. “After years of drastic cuts, it is time our students had a chance to focus on learning instead of having to face larger class sizes, fewer course choices, and fewer teachers in the classroom.”
The recommended spending plan includes a proposal to change how funding is allocated to local school districts. The governor’s “local control funding formula” provides additional resources to schools with students with greater needs, such as English learners and students from low-income homes. The budget documents do not fully detail how the new formula would work, and educators are concerned about how it may affect funding for all schools over time.
“We commend the governor for identifying class size as a funding priority, but the proposal still permits larger class sizes than the current legal maximum of 20 students,” Vogel emphasizes. “We want to ensure the state has adequate resources to reduce class sizes back to more teachable levels, especially in grades K-3, and to implement the new Common Core State Standards designed to improve the quality of teaching and learning.
Other concerns center on the overall structure of the new system and the nature and quality of the data that will be used to calculate appropriations. Educators want to ensure that the state does not move to a new funding formula before schools receive all of the funding they are owed from prior years, when cuts pared more than $27 billion from public schools.
The governor’s budget proposal is far different from the draconian spending plan he would have had to propose if Proposition 30 had failed. Without voter approval of that revenue measure, schools would have faced another $5 billion in cuts, including $1 billion in additional slashes to the state’s higher education institutions and further increases in tuition costs.
“Overall, thanks to California voters and Governor Brown, the proposed budget is a good first step toward restoring much-needed funding to our public schools and colleges,” Vogel notes. “We look forward to working with the governor and all lawmakers on behalf of California’s students and educators.”
The governor’s proposal now goes to the Legislature for review. The state constitution requires the state to have a final budget in place on June 30, the day before the start of the new funding year.
For more information and to stay up-to-date on the budget and other legislation, go to www.cta.org/budget.