With Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May 14 revision of the 2008-09 state budget proposal, ACSA and other members of the Education Coalition are expected to increase efforts to protect school funding.
Schwarzengger has continued to release varing deficit spending figures, ranging from $12 billion to $20 billion and more. Critics have accused the governor of padding the deficit with “rainy day” figures and accuse him of estimating high to leverage negotiations.
While it is clear there are extraordinary challenges presented by this budget, budget cuts to education are fundamentally inconsistent with voters’ ongoing commitment to Proposition 98 and ensuring adequate funding for schools and students.
Voters passed Prop. 98 almost 20 years ago to ensure students and schools receive minimum funding. And they strongly reaffirmed their support for the minimum funding law in 2005. Any structural budget reforms must protect the integrity of Prop. 98, as well as providing the long-term and stable funding our schools deserve. California already spends $1,000 less per student than the national average. Recent studies have shown California seriously underfunds its public schools, with New York spending 75 percent more than California. And California has some of the most overcrowded classrooms and the greatest shortage of librarians, counselors and other critical support staff in the nation.
The most pressing challenge is to enact a balanced budget that continues the momentum of educational improvement that has been built since the late 1990s. This budget proposal does not do that and anything less is unacceptable.
In the meantime, we recommend that education leaders consider the following best practices:
- Keep your boards, staff (all), parent organizations, and community stakeholders up to date – you are welcome and encouraged to use these updates as templates for your communications
- Keep your management teams in the loop – especially site principals
- Continue to clearly communicate what the governor’s proposal would mean for your LEA and/or school sites
- Communicate with integrity, openness and understanding – especially if you have issued layoff notices
- Inform your press representatives as to your upcoming budget process and how the political and budget situation is impacting your LEA (NOTE: Consideration of this action should be in accordance with district policies and practices)
- Stay up to date on your contracts and numbers – summer cash flow (especially with the July Advanced Apportionment being delayed until September), beginning and ending balances, labor agreements, staffing, site budgets, etc.
- Continue to work closely with your county offices regarding budget and labor agreement review and certification