Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Katie Orr, State Government Reporter for Capital Public Radio
Thad Kousser, UC San Diego professor of Political Science
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing giving California school districts an additional $1 billion to implement new, more rigorous academic standards and $240 million more for his sweeping school funding overhaul.
Brown maintained his proposed formula for the spending overhaul in the revised budget plan released Tuesday. It would send more money to districts with more English learner and low-income students, despite criticism from Democrats in the state Legislature.
The governor did offer small changes to the proposal - including county and state responsibility for overseeing whether school districts adhere to the spending plans they create for themselves. Those plans will have to be tied to academic goals for each district's students.
California has seen a surge of $4.5 billion more than expected this year and much of the money by law must go to education.
The Democratic governor wants to give districts $1 billion to implement "common core" standards, including more English and mathematics instruction and higher-order thinking.
San Diego Unified Board of Education President John Lee Evans said earmarked state funds would make a big difference in rolling the new standards out.
“It really takes money to implement it both in terms of materials, technology and professional preparation," he said. "And It’s really exciting because the Common Core Standards are really inline with our Vision 2020, which is to have more critical and creative thinkers.”
Scott Patterson, deputy superintendent for business services for Grossmont Union High School District, agreed the infusion for Common Core implementation will be helpful, but are concerned that funding will still be far below where it was five years ago.
The governor's budget would also spend $1.9 billion on accelerating the state's repayment of deferred school funding. Districts like San Diego Unified have taken out short-term bonds for the last several years to tide them over until the state's delayed payments come through. That means paying interest on that borrowing - the sooner the state pays down its outstanding debts, the sooner districts will be able to stop that borrowing. Under the revised budget the state would repay deferred school district funding by the 2014-15 school year.
Another change to school funding Brown proposed in January was shifting money for adult education programs - like English as a second language and GED classes - entirely to community colleges. Some school districts that have large adult education programs - like the Vista Unified and Sweetwater High School Districts - issued layoff notices to adult education staff earlier this spring.
Manuel Rubio, a spokesman for the Sweetwater district, said the governor's decision to wait at least two years to change the way those programs are funded could be a reprieve for adult education in the district.
"It's still a little early to tell," Rubio said. "We'll be diving into it to see exactly what it means for us. Hopefully we'll be able to restore as much of those programs as possible."