There is currently a lot of conversation taking place among California legislators about funding for public education. Although California is the 5th largest economy in the world, our state level of education funding per student is 45th in the Nation. As a comparison, California students are funded at approximately $10,000 per student, while New York provides $21,000 of funding per student.
South Bay is struggling with many of the same financial challenges facing other California school districts, most notably declining enrollment, increased pension obligations, and rising costs for Special Education services. Over the past twenty years, we have seen steady declines in enrollment and currently have 3,000 less students than we had twenty years ago. In very general financial terms, the loss of 100 students is equal to a loss of $1 million in funding.
There are two public education funding plans aiming for the November 2020 ballot:
A coalition led by the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators, and the Community College League of California are endorsing the Full and Fair Funding: Public School Progress, Prosperity, and Accountability Act of 2020. This initiative would increase taxes on individuals and corporations earning more than $1 million and would produce enough money for K-12 and community colleges to raise California’s per-student funding to the national average.
The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act is sponsored by a coalition of social justice organizations, public employee unions, the California State PTA, and the California Teachers Association among others. This “split-roll” measure would leave Proposition 13’s limits on tax increases for homeowners intact while changing the rules for business and commercial properties. Roughly 40% of the projected $11 billion annual tax revenue would go to schools and community colleges, with the rest divided among counties and cities.
Our Board of Trustees has endorsed both plans and it is our best hope that one of these initiatives will be placed on the 2020 ballot. There is nothing more important than ensuring that our schools, and all California schools, receive the resources needed to provide every student with a high-quality education.