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.
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.
- 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 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).
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.