California Lawmakers Cut $8.4 Billion ($380 Per Student) From K-12 School Budgets; Importance Of Fundraising For Orange County Schools Never Greater

State lawmakers will cut $8.4 billion from the $58.1 billion budget for public education, lowering per-pupil spending from $8,784 to $8,404 over the next two years.

That’s $11,400 less for a typical K-12 classroom of 30 kids.

The education budget is shared by public schools and community colleges, but the colleges will see virtually no cuts, said Edgar Cabral of the state’s legislative analyst’s office.

Educators had been especially anxious for a budget deal to better decide how many teachers to lay off – and to know whether their districts would even remain solvent. When the budget was finally passed Thursday, schools had taken the largest hit of any state agency.

“Districts are not going to emerge unscathed from this,” said Terry Anderson of School Services of California, a firm that advises most of the state’s 1,300 school districts on financial matters. Anderson said it is still unclear how much the federal stimulus package will help school districts because much of that money is earmarked for certain programs.

California schools and colleges expect at least $5 billion.

California’s popular class-size reduction program for kindergarten through third grade escaped the ax after the PTA and teachers’ unions cried foul.

“I’m complaining about the budget – but I’m not really complaining,” said David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association.

Under the vastly leaner budget, schools will have more freedom in how to spend money. They won’t have to buy new textbooks as often, and won’t have to reserve as much money for upkeep of schools.

Yet budgets for dozens of programs – from standardized testing to classes for English learners – will be slashed by more than 15 percent this year, and by nearly 20 percent next year.

The budget also withholds a 5 percent cost-of-living increase from districts, which in San Francisco means a loss of $15 million over two years. It’s money used for electives, counselors, nurses and teachers, said Myong Leigh, the district’s planning chief.

“We’re relieved that the state passed a budget, and at the same time horrified at the amount of money to be given to school districts,” Leigh said.

He said the district will ask the city for another round of help from its “rainy-day fund,” which contributed $19 million to schools this year.

San Francisco plans to send out 500 layoff notices to teachers by this year’s legal deadline of March 13, warning teachers that they may not be hired next year. Other districts also are sending warnings.

The new budget also slashes $115.5 million from the University of California over two years, although $50 million could be restored with federal stimulus money.

California State University faces $163 million in cuts, of which $50 million could also be restored.



Safe from cuts:

Cut by 15 to 20 percent:

Programs now optional:

They include gifted education, arts and music, and summer school.All other programs, including charter school facilities grants and state testing.Eight K-12 programs, including special education and K-3 class-size reduction.$8.4 billion, or $380 per pupil.

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