Education Coalition Press Release on June Budget Solution for School Reopenings

The following press release was issued on May 28 by the Education Coalition, of which California State PTA is a member:

Educators, Classified Personnel, Parents & Administrators Call for June Solution to the Budget Shortfall to Ensure Schools Safely Open This Fall

Group Says Schools Cannot Physically Reopen Safely with Funding Level Proposed in the May Revision

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Education Coalition, comprised of the nine statewide K-12 education associations that work closely to advocate for the six million students in California’s public schools and colleges, urged California’s lawmakers to adopt a funding solution to the COVID-19-related budget crisis in the June budget. The group said that without adequate funding, schools cannot open on time safely.

Under the Governor’s proposed budget, a 10% cut ($6.5 billion) to the Local Control Funding Formula equates to:

  • Cutting $1,230 per student, or
  • Cutting $21,667 per classroom, or
  • Increasing class sizes by 19%, or
  • Laying off more than 57,600 teachers, or
  • Laying off more than 125,000 education support professionals. 

The group announced that preparing each classroom, library, gym, lunchroom, and school bus for the safe return of students, teachers, and staff will require significant resources and planning. Without adequate funding, this will not be feasible, even after public health officials provide guidance and clearance, given the additional staff needed and associated increased costs.

“Deep budget cuts to public education will stand in the way of preparing our schools for the safe return of students and educators and further prolong the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said E. Toby Boyd, President of California Teachers Association (CTA). “Schools and colleges cannot reopen safely with the funding level proposed in the revised budget plan. We urge the governor and the legislature to prioritize equity in our public schools by rejecting cuts and addressing this funding crisis now so schools can prepare to reopen safely in the fall. Our students, parents, teachers, school employees, administrators, and supporters are looking to you to join us in making our students’ safety and well-being the number one priority.”

“We are here today to speak as one voice to unequivocally say to our elected leaders in Sacramento – Our schools cannot safely reopen with the proposed cuts to public education,” said Jeff Freitas, President of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT).

“To open schools safely, California schools need more money, not less,” said Celia Jaffe, President of the California State PTA. “We have to make sure the budget reflects how the state values the health, welfare and safety of our children.”

“County Superintendents of Schools annually review and approve the budget of every school district in the state, so we know that school districts are under enormous financial stress right now,” said Peter Birdsall, Executive Director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA). “County Superintendents are working with school districts to ensure that when schools reopen, students and staff can return to a safe environment.  With the need for blended learning, social distancing and enhanced cleaning, fewer resources will create a tremendous challenge to effectively meeting this goal.”

“The May Revision budget proposal will prevent many schools from opening safely as expenses for COVID-19 response have exacerbated the already precarious financial situation of public schools,” said Vernon M. Billy, CEO of California Schools Boards Association (CSBA). “The Governor’s May Revise is simply not realistic. It’s equivalent to asking a Tesla owner to drive their electric car from Sacramento to Los Angeles and back on a single charge. It’s not realistic. In February – before the pandemic – we conducted a survey of school districts’ financial conditions which found that 77 percent of school districts were already deficit spending and more than a third were contemplating layoffs. We are asking the Legislature and Governor for a realistic budget that funds our schools appropriately and allows us to provide students with an education in a safe and supportive environment during this pandemic.”

“Classified school staff have been serving on the front lines of this crisis since day one and the need for their essential work will only increase as we identify the additional measures needed to address the real health and safety needs of our students and communities,” said Ben Valdepeña, President of the California School Employees Association (CSEA). “The governor’s initial budget proposal falls short of meeting those needs, but we look forward to working with him and the Legislature in developing a solution that does.”

“These trying times require shared leadership and support, and we urge our state leaders to stand with us, with our students, and with our hard-working administrators, educators, and child nutrition and custodial staff because, without them, our economy and our future are at stake,” said Molly McGee Hewitt, CEO and Executive Director for the California Association of School Business Officials.

“This pandemic has exposed stark inequities in our schools. As we recover, we must also rebuild schools that ensure every child can learn in a safe and supportive environment – no matter the color of their skin, their abilities, where they live or where they came from,” said Max Arias, Executive Director of SEIU Local 99. “This will require funding to ensure every school is sanitized and disinfected daily, families in need continue to receive meals, and all children have access to the technology and remote learning support they need to succeed.”

The group is also calling on the administration and the legislature to identify and agree on alternate revenue sources, in addition to supporting the suspension of tax credits, to ensure K-12 schools can provide quality and safe educational environments for California’s six million students.

To watch a recording of the press conference, click here and use the password 7l=.p4Uf 

The Education Coalition, working together to support and improve California’s public schools:
Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) representing more than 17,000 school administrators, California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) representing more than 23,000 school business officials, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association (CCSESA) representing all 58 county superintendents throughout California, California Federation of Teachers (CFT-AFL-CIO) representing nearly 120,000 education employees, California School Boards Association (CSBA) representing nearly 1,000 K-12 school districts and county offices of education throughout California, California School Employees Association (CSEA) representing more than 250,000 classified school employees, California State PTA representing 700,000 parents, teachers and students in California, California Teachers Association (CTA) representing over 310,000 educators, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing more than 50,000 school employees in California.