K-12 could face $15 billion in cuts

May 25, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered a sobering education budget May 14, proposing a $15.1 billion reduction in K-12 funding as part of his overall state budget that estimates a $54 billion deficit over the next three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The $203 billion budget proposal includes a $19 billion reduction to the Proposition 98 guarantee and a 10 percent reduction to the Local Control Funding Formula. The cut would result in a 7.7 percent reduction from 2019-20 funding levels. If the federal government provides relief, however, some of those cuts could be averted. The governor also proposed a 50 percent reduction to categorical programs, including $79.4 million from the K-12 Strong Workforce Program, $77.4 million from the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program and $66.7 million from the Adult Education Block Grant. The May revision eliminates most of Newsom’s January proposals to bolster funding for these categorical programs, as well as for educator recruitment and retention programs. One of the few bright spots of the revised budget proposal is in special education funding. The May revision retains one aspect of Newsom’s January proposal to shift prior, one-time special education funding into ongoing base grant funds. A new formula that would use a three-year rolling average of Local Education Agency average daily attendance would result in an increase of per-pupil spending to $645 per student. Districts could also see some relief in pension obligations — the revision proposes buying down CalSTRS and CalPERS employer rates over the next two years, potentially reducing the rates by about 2 percent from projected levels. Specifically, CalSTRS rates would be at 16.5 percent in 2020-21 and 16 percent in 2021-22, while CalPERS rates would be at about 20.7 percent and 22.8 percent, respectively. Additionally, Newsom proposed to redirect $4.4 billion in federal CARES Act funding to Local Education Agencies to mitigate learning loss as a result of pandemic-related school closures. About $1.5 billion would be allocated to LEAs based on special education enrollment, with $2.5 billion allocated on a per-pupil basis to LEAs that generate concentration grant funding. Although the revised budget as it stands could have devastating impacts on students of all ages in California’s public education system, ACSA advocates are continuing to work with the state Senate and Assembly on their budget amendments as it moves through the two houses. ACSA has also joined Newsom in calling for the passage of the federal Heroes Act, a $3 trillion relief package, to help prevent the additional cuts to LCFF and K-12 categorical programs that would occur if the federal government does not intervene. “ACSA will work with the governor and legislature for additional dollars in the final budget, and joins the governor in calling on the federal government for additional support that mitigates the impact of the proposed reductions,” said ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith. “We will need a greater investment if districts are going to safely physically open next year. We also call on school leaders to continue to engage in grassroots advocacy efforts to ensure their voices are heard as our policymakers make further decisions.” ACSA advocates also encourage members to advocate on their own behalf. Advocacy tools will be made available to ensure members can make their voices heard to their local legislators and advocate on behalf of all California students. Read ACSA's full May revise analysis.

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