Local Education Funding Hangs In The Balance As State And National Vote Counts Continue
Thursday, November 5, 2020
The results of state and national elections could have a huge impact on funding for local schools. Billions are on the line as statewide support for Proposition 15 trails and Republicans appear likely to maintain control of the U.S. Senate.
If it passes, Prop. 15 would generate billions of dollars in school funding across California by requiring commercial property owners to pay property taxes at market value. The San Diego Unified School District would see upwards of $20 million dollars starting in the next school year.
But as of Thursday afternoon, Prop. 15 trailed by about 427,000 votes. With millions of mail-in ballots left to count, however, supporters remain optimistic.
“We could double the number of school counselors in our districts, we could double the number of school nurses and we could reduce class sizes in our early grades,” said Richard Barrera, vice president of San Diego Unified's school board. “So there are many, many advantages to our district if Prop. 15 were to end up passing.”
Elisha Smith Arrillaga, the executive director of Ed Trust-West, a research and advocacy group focused on equity in education, was encouraged by the level of support for Prop. 15, even if it’s unlikely to pass.
“I would urge not only policymakers but also employers to think about how the issues we see in the state in terms of the economy are pipeline issues and so we have to start farther down," Arrillaga said. "And that means investing resources in ways we haven’t before."
For Barrera, a Republican-controlled Senate could be the bigger issue when it comes to school funding. He has said that San Diego Unified’s reopening plans depend on dollars that would come from another large federal stimulus package.
He said this funding could help mitigate the anticipated reductions in state funding for the next school year. He urged D.C. lawmakers to pass a stimulus bill before January.
“We’re already into the next big wave of the coronavirus around the country,” Barrera said. “If people are concerned about schools and the economy, they really need to take a responsible approach and act now.”
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