PTA’s Director of Legislation Quoted in Hi-Desert Star

Shereen Walter, California State PTA’s Director of Legislation, was quoted in this article about The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020 that appeared in the Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star yesterday.

“’Our schools have been desperately underfunded for years. With the governor’s proposed cuts to education of $15 billion, this initiative is needed now, more than ever, to ensure our schools have the resources they need in order to provide the education our children deserve,’ Shereen Walter, director of legislation for the California State PTA, said in an email Tuesday.”

Officially known as The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020 and informally called the “split roll” initiative, it would modify 1978’s Proposition 13 initiative if passed. It will raise funds by reassessing and taxing certain commercial properties at current market value. It will appear on the November 2020 ballot.

Click here to read more about the initiative on CAPTA’s website – you’ll find a summary of the initiative, a link to the full text, and the fiscal impact report document. The campaign is also seeking volunteers to help get the initiative passed. Click here to volunteer.

Message from California State PTA Regarding Governor’s Budget

California Budget: Bad News For Schools – PTA Parent Advocacy Needed Now

Despite efforts by Governor Newsom to minimize cuts to education and children’s services, the revised May California budget proposal leaves schools and other programs facing significant cuts.

The largest cut to K-12 funding is a 10 percent reduction to the Local Control Funding Formula ($6.5 billion in 2020-21).

Schools throughout the state, already bracing for cuts before the pandemic, now have to cut budgets even further. The financial hurt stretches beyond the coming school year, with even greater economic challenges in the following years.

The pandemic has overwhelmed the state’s capacity to adequately support the education, health and welfare of California’s children.

Time for Parent Advocacy

Before we get to details about the proposed budget, let’s address what parents must do now to cushion this blow. We need to speak up and advocate for more money: More money from the federal government, more money at the ballot box, and more revenue in the state budget.

  • Contact your state representatives: Let them know what the impact of the proposed budget will be on your school. To find your representatives click here.
  • Advocate for More Federal Funding: Contact your federal representatives and ask them to support an additional $200 billion in federal funds for schools. Unless Congress acts, schools will experience major budget cuts triggered by the pandemic. Click here to send a message to your federal representatives.
  • Help pass the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative which is on the November ballot: This could raise about $11.5 billion dollars each year for our schools and local communities. Click here to volunteer.

Budget Process

In May, both houses of the legislature make their own budget recommendations. Then the legislature and the Governor negotiate a final budget, which must be adopted by June 15.

Efforts to Protect School Funding

The financial crisis is so big that funding schools at the minimum Proposition 98 guarantee would have decimated public education. It would have meant an almost $19 billion cut from the Governor’s January proposed budget. The chart below from the Department of Finance shows the projected drop in state revenues.

The Governor is recommending significant education investments in addition to the Prop. 98 minimum guarantee to reduce this precipitous drop.

These include:

  • Supplemental general fund payments for several years to avoid a permanent decline in school funding.
  • Federal money to address student learning loss caused by school closures and for Title 1 schools.
  • Limits on tax credits and other changes in the state tax code to generate more money
  • Deferrals of state payments (late payments) to school districts.
  • Increases in special education funding.
  • Pension relief for school districts.

The Governor is also drawing down from the state’s rainy day reservesClick here for details.

Proposed Cuts

The budget proposes major cuts to existing programs, such as after school and career technical education totaling $353 million and the elimination/reduction of many of the new programs the governor had included in his January budget proposal. This includes increased funding for school food programs and efforts to address the teacher shortage (about $1.5 billion).

Early Education

While some early childhood education programs benefit from extra federal money, there are significant cuts to others. There is extra funding for COVID-19 related childcare activities ($350.3 million) under the federal CARES Act. But there are also $706 million in cuts to childcare and $490 million to state preschool programs.

Federal Money Helps Plug Budget Holes

California received $1.6 billion in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds. Ninety percent ($1.5 billion) will be allocated to schools through Title 1 funding to help low-income students. The remaining 10 percent ($164.7 million) will support community schools, training and professional development for educators, and the state department of education for COVID-related costs.

The budget uses $4.4 billion in federal CARES funding to address learning loss and equity issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 school closures this spring. These funds will be used by districts to support summer learning and other programs that address equity gaps. These funds will also be used to make necessary modifications so that schools can reopen in the fall and help support parents’ ability to work.

Budget Details:

K12 and Early Childhood education

Health and Human Services

Homelessness and Local Government

California State PTA and Carol Kocivar Honored at 2020 National PTA Legislative Conference

California State PTA was recognized with the Outstanding State Advocacy Award at the 2020 National PTA Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. last month, for our efforts in raising awareness about healthier school start times and securing the passage of SB 328, the Late School Start bill. The legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2019, requires that middle schools in California start no earlier than 8:00 a.m., and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Carol Kocivar, CAPTA’s former president and current legislative advocate, was also honored individually. She received the 2020 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award, which is presented to an individual PTA member who, through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal policy priorities within PTA’s annual Public Policy Agenda. Carol’s advocacy includes work on increasing investments in quality public education, school infrastructure, public school choice and charter accountability, as well as safe and supportive school environments.

While they were in Washington, our delegation of 14 from California also met with the offices of Senators Feinstein and Harris, as well as the offices of a number of our Congressional representatives. Our talking points focused on the inclusion of schools in any federal infrastructure legislation as well as the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. Click here for a copy of the National PTA talking points for the conference.

Director of Legislation Shereen Walter and California State PTA President Celia Jaffe also presented a standing-room-only workshop on effective grassroots advocacy techniques as one of the Spotlight presentations being highlighted at the conference.

California State PTA Disappointed by Prop 13 Election Results – Looks to November Ballot to Secure Much-Needed Funding for Schools

SACRAMENTO, March 5, 2020 – California State PTA announces disappointment over the defeat of Proposition 13, which was not approved by voters in the state primary election on March 3rd. The passage of this initiative would have authorized state funding of $15 billion to K-12 public schools, community colleges, and universities for the construction and modernization of school facilities.

“We are disappointed that Prop 13 did not pass, as it would have helped our school districts respond to critical needs for funding to improve school facilities and modernize classrooms” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “California State PTA will continue its long history of support for state ballot measures and legislation that provide much needed school facility funds for the safety and health of California’s children.”

In addition to providing an unprecedented $9 billion for the K-12 system and $2 billion for each of the three higher education segments (UC, CSU, and Community Colleges), this bond measure would have included important stipulations to create more equity in how funds are distributed between wealthy and poorer districts, and provided for natural disaster assistance, remediation of lead in water, protections for smaller districts, and funds for preschools.

“Fortunately, voters will have another opportunity to secure on-going classroom funding this November by supporting the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, which commits 40% of the projected revenue raised to increase funding for K-12 schools and community colleges,” said Jaffe. “Our hope is that this new initiative will have a positive impact on the ability of school districts to hire more teachers and diversify their curriculum to ensure a complete education that includes science, technology and arts education for all students.”

The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020 aligns with PTA’s mission to advocate for the education, health and safety of children and families. California State PTA recognizes that appropriate and adequate funding directly impacts the success of students and communities across the state.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications
hippolito@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org

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About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public-education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information visit www.capta.org.

Register to Vote

If you’re not already registered to vote in California, October 19 is the deadline if you want to vote in the election on November 3, 2020.

Click here to register to vote in California.

We urge you to vote yes in November on two important ballot initiatives, which California State PTA currently supports:

Proposition 15: California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act

This initiative on the November 2020 state ballot would require that commercial and industrial real estate property worth $3 million or more be taxed on current market value, raising as much as $11.5 billion in additional funding for schools and other local governments. It protects all homeowners and renters by maintaining tax protections for ALL residential property.

This money would be allocated to schools (40%) and other local governments (60%).

Click here for detailed information about this ballot measure.

Proposition 16: Repeal Proposition 209 – Restore Affirmative Action

This constitutional amendment, placed on the November 2020 statewide ballot by the legislature, asks the voters of California to vote on permitting the use of race, gender, and ethnic diversity as factors (but not decisive factors) in education including college admissions, government hiring, and government contracting.

Click here for detailed information about this ballot measure.

Voting Resources

Here are some non-partisan websites that can help you learn more about the issues on the ballot:

Once you’ve completed your ballot, place it in the mailing envelope (you don’t need to add postage) then put it in the mail, or drop it at any official ballot drop box. If you’re sending it by mail, try to put it in a mailbox before election day, because it must be postmarked by November 3!

Here are some websites with other important tools and tips that can help you fill out and mail your ballot correctly, to ensure that your vote is counted:

 

California State PTA Announces Support for California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020

Media Contacts:

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / 916.440.1985

SACRAMENTO – December 19, 2020 – California State PTA announces its support for the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, a ballot initiative that aligns with the organization’s goals of promoting the education, health, safety and well-being of children and securing stable and sustainable public education funding.

Also known as the “split roll” initiative, the measure would amend 1978’s Proposition 13 by reassessing and taxing certain commercial properties at current market value. The initiative will appear on the November 2020 statewide ballot if it gets the required number of signatures to qualify. If approved it will raise $6.5-11.5 billion in annual funds for public education, local governments and community services.

Roughly 40% of the projected revenue raised from this initiative would go to K-12 schools and community colleges, with the rest allocated to counties and cities. This will provide additional resources toward the goal of providing every student with a quality 21st century education. Despite having the fifth-largest economy in the world, the state is 41st in the nation in terms of per-student funding, 45th in student-teacher ratios, and 48th in staff per student.

“When more funds flow into local coffers, school districts and communities see a direct benefit,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “This initiative will have a positive impact on the ability of school districts to hire teachers and diversify their curriculum in ways that California State PTA has long advocated for.”

“Due to lack of funds, California schools are failing to adhere to mandates in areas such as arts education, a subject in which 88% of schools don’t meet state requirements,” Jaffe said. “Furthermore, additional funding would ensure other underfunded areas such as science and technology education would receive support.”

The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020 is one of two school funding ballot measures that California State PTA is supporting in 2020. The second measure is the school facilities bond on the March 2020 ballot. Both align with PTA’s mission to advocate for the education, health and safety of children and families. California State PTA recognizes that appropriate and adequate funding directly impacts the success of students and communities across the state.

California State PTA Announces Support For Proposition 13 – Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020

Media Contacts:

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / 916.440.1985

SACRAMENTO – December 19, 2019 – California State PTA announces its support for Proposition 13 (2020), the $15 billion school facility bond measure that will appear on the March 3, 2020 statewide ballot. With a long history of advocating for statewide public education facilities bond measures, California State PTA joins an extensive list of school districts and educational advocacy organizations that also support the measure, formally known as the Public Preschool, K-12, and College Health and Safety Bond Act of 2020.

“California State PTA is proud to continue its long legacy of support for school facilities bonds,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “It is clear to our members that improving school facilities is critical to achieving the positive impact we strive for on behalf of all children and families across the state.”

In addition to providing an unprecedented $9 billion for the K-12 system and $2 billion for each of the three higher education segments (UC, CSU, and Community Colleges), this bond measure includes important stipulations that create more equity in how funds are distributed between wealthy and poorer districts, and provides for natural disaster assistance, remediation of lead in water, protections for smaller districts, and funds for preschools.

“California State PTA believes that this measure will make California’s schools healthier, more secure and more conducive to learning,” Jaffe said. “Our children deserve to flourish in schools that are safe and modern, regardless of their community’s socioeconomic status.”

California State PTA considers approval of this new bond measure to be essential. Not only will it ensure the continued flow of funds to improve the environment in which children learn, but it will also allow districts to provide facilities for arts instruction, science learning labs, and reduced class sizes.

Proposition 13 (2020) is one of two school funding measures that California State PTA is supporting in 2020. The second measure is the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, which will appear on the November 2020 ballot if it qualifies. Both measures align with PTA’s mission to advocate for the education, health and well-being of children and youth. California State PTA recognizes that appropriate and adequate funding directly impacts the success of students, families and communities across the state.

California State PTA Laments Victims of Saugus High School Shooting

Media Contacts:

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
communications@capta.org

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org
916.440.1985

SACRAMENTO – November 14, 2019 – California State PTA laments those who were injured, killed and traumatized by the November 14 shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California.

“Our hearts break for those who lost their lives and peace of mind at Saugus High School today,” said Celia Jaffe, President of the California State PTA. “Gun violence in schools is unacceptable. Schools should be places where students can learn and staff can teach in safety.”

California State PTA has long advocated for safer schools by supporting both state and federal legislation that protects children from gun violence, including:

  • Requiring firearm licensure procedures that include a minimum 3-day waiting period and background checks to screen out illegal firearm purchasers such as convicted felons and drug-related offenders;
  • Restricting internet gun sales, including kits that can be used to make/modify guns;
  • Enforcing federal and state minimum age requirements for gun purchases;
  • Requiring safety devices, including childproof trigger locks, on all firearms offered for sale, delivery or transfer;
  • Prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons for non-military/non-law enforcement use and requiring a registration process for those who legally own such firearms;
  • Banning the manufacture, sale or possession of “junk guns”/Saturday night specials;
  • Banning armor-piercing ammunition;
  • Controlling the illegal possession of firearms and other lethal weapons on school campuses; and
  • Supporting state and federal funding initiatives for the research of the causes and effects of gun violence

“Gun violence is a public health crisis that affects us all – most of all, our children and youth,” said Shereen Walter, California State PTA’s Director of Legislation. “Today’s shooting reinforces the urgency of finding a way to end such senseless crimes. California State PTA is actively lobbying both federal and state lawmakers to demand change, and we encourage our members to help our efforts by calling or writing to your state and federal representatives and demanding action.”

Statement on Governor’s Proposed 2019-2020 Budget

January 14, 2019

Media Contacts:

SACRAMENTO – Governor Newsom’s proposed budget has lots of good news for children and families. The strong investments in early education and the proposal to help school districts with rising pension costs are timely and smart strategies. California State PTA applauds the additional education funding through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) as well as a needed increase in funding special education services.

Two proposals that help with communication and accountability are also significant.

  • The creation of student data system—from early education through higher education and employment– to track how well students are doing
  • An online platform that merges the Dashboard, the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) electronic template, and other school site and school district reporting tools, including the School Accountability Report Card (SARC), to make it easier for parents and community to access and understand information.

“California State PTA applauds the Governor on this budget and looks forward to working with the Governor and legislature in supporting programs to help our children and families.

We also will continue to advocate for a long-term plan to bring California education funding to the levels of the top 10 highest funded and achieving states,” said California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald.

Important Initiatives

The budget contains a number of important initiatives to help families including:

  • Proposals to expand California’s Paid Family Leave program
  • Proposed Universal full-day, full-year preschool for all income-eligible 4-year-olds and increased funding so all children in California can attend full-day kindergarten
  • Investments in the child care workforce and facilities
  • Expansion of the Working Families Tax Credit, to be funded as part of a revenue neutral tax package
  • Increased developmental screenings for children in Medi-Cal
  • An expansion of home visiting programs for low-income young mothers, and an augmentation to the Black Infant Health Program are important investments for our families
  • Support for homeless through money to build emergency shelters, navigation centers, or supportive housing.

More Information on the Budget

May Revise 2018-19 Budget Analysis

California State PTA’s Look at Governor Brown’s May Revision of the 2018-19 State Budget

Good news: California’s proposed budget maintains and expands important investments in the health and education of children, youth and families.

The not so good news: Despite a strong economy, California’s investment in education continues to lag the nation.

The Governor’s Budget Approach: Caution

With an eye to a future rainy day, the governor’s budget targets this year’s surplus for one-time investments rather than a host of long term commitments. The May Revision projects $8 billion in additional revenues and proposes $4 billion in increased spending above the January budget proposal.

New investments include paying down debts and liabilities, investments in infrastructure, and efforts to combat homelessness, and mental illness —all of which affect California’s children and youth.

There is $1.8 billion proposed for discretionary one-time funding for school districts, charter schools, and county offices of Education.

Education Highlights

Education funding continues to increase. The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) will reach its funding target of digging California out of the deep hole created by the Great Recession. This is a significant accomplishment but still leaves California behind other states.

“We applaud the Gov. Brown’s strong commitment to the Local Control Funding Formula. This formula provides local flexibility on spending decisions and additional funding for needy students. We support the governor’s proposal to ensure consistent and annual local control funding plus annual cost of living adjustments and a stable and transparent process for certifying the minimum guarantee of funding under Proposition 98.”

Funding, however, remains below the national average and far below the education funding levels of the highest performing states. Increased pension contributions and other costs dilute recent funding increases and many school districts are looking at budget cuts.

To address some of these long-term issues, California State PTA supports greater equity in special education funding as well as a major increase to the LCFF funding over time. These are not included in the governor’s proposal.

While there is some increase in funding for early education, it is falls far short of the pre-school, transitional kindergarten, and child care needs of California’s children.

We anticipate there will be continued discussion on these issues as the final budget is adopted.

More money for PTA priorities

Several of the governor’s proposals target PTA priority areas:

  • A Community Engagement Initiative. This proposes $13.3 million in one-time money to help build the capacity of school districts to engage more effectively with local school communities as they develop their local budgets and spending plans
  • Fiscal Transparency. The budget includes efforts to provide parent friendly reports that contain information on how supplemental grants for student in need are used to increase and to improve services and to make the California School Dashboard easier to use
  • Improve School Climate. A proposed $15 million in one-time money is to foster positive school climate
  • Special Education Staff Support. This continues the January budget proposal for more money to hire and train teachers, and paraprofessionals, to meet the needs of students with special needs.

We look forward to working on the development of these ideas.

Support for mental health

In addition to support for education, the budget contains proposals to improve mental health services:

  • A proposal for a November 2018 ballot measure for housing to support those needing mental health services and who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness
  • Funding for children’s mental health services to support early intervention and prevention, with an emphasis on teens
  • Homeless mentally ill outreach and treatment for earlier identification of mental health needs, prevention of criminal justice involvement, and improved coordination of care
  • Funding for graduate medical school education to address the lack of mental health professionals.

Health Care

The May Revision provides additional funding to pay for expanding health care coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, and restoring health benefits to low-income Californians that were eliminated during the recession, including adult dental services.

Next steps

As this budget is developed, PTA will continue to advocate for the needs of our children, youth and families.

PTA Advocacy Goals include:

  • Support adequate funding for public education by educating our members and policy makers, and by advocating for legislation to bring California within the top 10 states in per-pupil funding
  • Promote schools as safe and welcoming environments for all students, families and communities and support children’s health and welfare in all aspects of their lives
  • Support and protect high-quality public education from efforts that would weaken this vital foundation of our democracy
  • Advocate for authentic and measurable family engagement standards in education policy.

More budget information