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Gov. Jerry Brown got the bottom line he wanted faster than expected.
Brown and legislative leaders announced a budget deal Tuesday, one day after state lawmakers approved spending $2 billion beyond what the governor said he’d accept. The final agreement will not alter the record education spending that Brown proposed through Proposition 98, the voter-approved formula that determines revenue for some preschool programs, K-12 schools and community colleges.
Lawmakers did obtain some concessions within the $115.4 billion spending plan Brown presented last month: 7,000 additional full-day preschool slots and 6,800 more childcare vouchers that parents can use to pay daycare providers; and 10,000 additional students at the California State University and 5,000 more students at the University of California, if UC meets conditions that Brown is requiring. Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, called this extra money for the “book ends” of students’ education critical to providing children “a fair shot” at success.
After years of cuts in education funding following the recession, the $68.4 billion for Prop. 98 in the coming year is a remarkable turnaround. The 12.3 percent increase is $7.5 billion more than the $60.9 billion last year.
One-time and ongoing appropriations for K-12 schools and community colleges will total $14 billion next year. This includes revised revenue estimates for the current year, after school districts’ budgets were already set. A third of the money will go to pay off debts to schools built up during the recession.
Highlights of spending next year for education include:
- $6.1 billion added to the $47 billion appropriated last year – a 13.2 percent increase – for schools to spend through the Local Control Funding Formula, the new finance system providing general funding. That’s an average of $1,088 more per student for an average district, in which 63 percent of English learners and low-income children receive
extra money under the formula.
- $500 million in one-time spending for teacher development. That’s part of the final agreement Brown made with de León and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. It will reduce the $3.5 billion that Brown had proposed in repayments to districts for past mandated expenses. Districts will receive the money on a per-teacher and per-administrator basis. They can use the funding over three years to provide training in the Common Core and other new academic standards, to support new teachers and principals or struggling teachers identified through Peer Assistance and Review programs, and to train mentor principals and teachers.
- More than $1 billion over three years for new career and technical education initiatives, including $400 million next year for a new proposal, the Career Technical Education Incentive Grant Program. It will promote regional partnerships to meet emerging workforce needs.
- $60 million in new funding to expand interventions for special-needs children ages birth to 2, an additional 2,500 part-day preschool slots and an expansion of schoolwide behavioral supports – all recommended by the Statewide Special Education Task Force, which issued its report in March.
- A $10 million increase in Foster Youth Services, which now receives $15 million from the state. The increase plus a change in the law will allow foster youth who live with relatives to receive counseling and tutoring.
- $4 billion in debt repayment. This includes $3 billion for unpaid state mandates and $1 billion in the final repayment for deferrals – late payments that required schools to borrow money.
- $7.9 billion for community colleges, up about $700 million from a year ago. The Legislative Analyst’s Office calculated that funding per full-time equivalent student would be $6,764 in the coming year, $724 per student above – 12 percent– the pre-recession level.
Responding to a strong push from business and community groups, early education advocates and legislators, Brown agreed to allocate $265 million for early education that included an increase in reimbursement rates by 5 percent to preschool and childcare providers, and by 4.5 percent to providers paid by vouchers.
“If you look at it from what the kids need, we have a long ways to go,” said Ted Lempert, president of Children Now, an advocacy group based in Oakland that got 350 organizations to sign a letter to the governor on behalf of early education. “But if you look at it from what we were expecting, it’s strong. The Legislature threw together a really strong package, and the bulk of the package is in there and that’s great.”
The 7,000 new slots — plus the 2,500 part-day preschool slots for children with exceptional needs — are a step toward a goal of 31,500 slots needed to provide preschool for every 4-year-old from a low-income family.
The number of childcare vouchers needed is not clear, said Giannina Perez, director of early learning and development policy for Children Now. In June 2011, the state disbanded its waiting list for low-income families who needed help with childcare costs, Perez said. At the time, that list had 200,000 eligible families, she said.
Of the $265 million total, $100 million will now be part of the Prop. 98 guarantee, something the early education advocates had wanted because of the recent huge influx of funds into Prop. 98 compared with the rest of the state budget. Education groups, such as the California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association, had opposed adding more preschool funding into the guarantee for K-12 schools and community colleges.
Brown did not allocate an additional $25 million for the state’s $550 million fund for after-school programs as legislators had proposed. The program has not seen an increase since it was first implemented in 2006.
The fat budget years for education are expected to level off with the expiration of temporary taxes under Proposition 30. Surging revenues have enabled the state to pay back most of the more than $10 billion in Prop. 98 allocations owed to districts in past years, called the maintenance factor. But districts are still owed $700 million, and that amount is expected to grow post-Prop. 30.
Because the Local Control Funding Formula steers additional money to districts based on their enrollments of “high-needs” children – low-income students, English learners and foster youth – some have caught up to or surpassed pre-recession spending levels, adjusted for inflation, but others still have not.
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