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Source: Califorina Budget and Policy Center

This chart shows the per pupil spending gap between California's K-12 schools and the national average over the past 14 years in inflation-adjusted dollars. It has narrowed substantially in the past two years, through revenue from Proposition 30, but is still nearly $1,000 per student below average – about what it was in 2007-08, before the recession.

Revenue from temporary taxes from Proposition 30 has closed the K-12 spending gap between California and the national average by more than 60 percent, according to data released Monday by the California Budget and Policy Center, a nonprofit research organization.

The center is using data released last week by the National Education Association, and includes estimates for 2014-15, based on twice yearly surveys of the states. In 2014-15, California is expected to spend $11,190 per student, including federal, state and local revenue sources, according to the NEA, ranking the state 29th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. California was 42nd in spending in 2012-13, with spending of $9,013 per student.

The reason for the increase is Proposition 30, a seven-year tax increase that California voters passed in 2012. It is expected to bring in an additional $7.9 billion this year in school funding through increases in the personal income taxes of the top wage earners and a higher sales tax rate.

In 2012-13, per-student spending in California was $2,675 less than the average of the 49 other states and Washington, D.C. This year, California will spend $975 less per student, according to the center.

While subject to revision, “this is the best snapshot we have,” said Jonathan Kaplan, senior policy analyst for the center.

Earlier this year, Education Week’s annual ranking placed California 46th in per-student spending, compared with 50th the previous year.  But Ed Week’s rankings are three years old, based on data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics, and also were adjusted, using wage and salary data, to reflect regional costs of living.

Education advocates tend to cite either the NEA or Ed Week, depending on their points of view. The California Budget and Policy Center plans to issue a comparison of the two approaches in coming weeks.

Proposition 30 is set to expire within the next three years, starting with the end of the quarter-cent increase in the sales tax after 2015-16. At that point K-12 and community college revenues are expected to flatten out or, in the case of a recession, decline. The California Teachers Association and the California School Boards Association support an initiative for the 2016 ballot extending the tax or making it permanent. Gov. Jerry Brown so far has indicated he opposes renewing it.

 


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  1. museking 8 months ago8 months ago

    John, your "But..." after the NEA/Ed Week rankings for CA per pupil spending implies that the accuracy of those numbers is questionable. Since you are comparing states' public education spending, and there is a wide disparity in regional cost structures, it is far more accurate to utilize the NEA numbers vs. the raw, gross spending numbers which necessarily indicate that high-cost states like NY and CA are spending richly vs. states like LA, AL, … Read More

    John, your “But…” after the NEA/Ed Week rankings for CA per pupil spending implies that the accuracy of those numbers is questionable. Since you are comparing states’ public education spending, and there is a wide disparity in regional cost structures, it is far more accurate to utilize the NEA numbers vs. the raw, gross spending numbers which necessarily indicate that high-cost states like NY and CA are spending richly vs. states like LA, AL, etc., when the true cost to educate students is much greater due to wage and other cost (energy, real estate, etc.) differentials. Please avoid misleading readers. Additionally, as Katherine points out, and you should be aware of this, Prop 30’s revenues are not assigned 100% to education. In fact, the law is written to explicitly deduct $6B in previous sales tax revenues assigned to CA public education from all future Prop 98 education revenue calculations even after Prop 30 expires. Is this a scare tactic to induce voters to renew the tax or a way to further dilute and weaken Prop 98 protections? More insight into what’s left of Prop 98 would be a great idea for a follow-on article topic– don’t you think? 🙂

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 8 months ago8 months ago

      Museking, some per pupil spending rankings use regional cost formulas and some don’t. It’s an important distinction that readers need to know.

  2. SD Parent 2 years ago2 years ago

    Spending per student is a nice catch-all, but it gives a very murky image of the actual situation. While CBP sings the praises of Prop 30 (and warns of the impending cliff when it expires), their one-pager they completely side-steps how that "extra" funding is being "spent": $1 billion for SBAC testing (you remember, the amount CSBA and some districts are suing the state for the cost of administering the SBAC, not to … Read More

    Spending per student is a nice catch-all, but it gives a very murky image of the actual situation. While CBP sings the praises of Prop 30 (and warns of the impending cliff when it expires), their one-pager they completely side-steps how that “extra” funding is being “spent”: $1 billion for SBAC testing (you remember, the amount CSBA and some districts are suing the state for the cost of administering the SBAC, not to mention future costs of technology upgrades) and the increasing payments to CalSTRS for the next 30 years to offset the approximately $165 billion in unfunded pension liability that was handed to districts in the May Revise last year, the continuing unfunded and underfunded mandates…

    In San Diego Unified, personnel salaries and benefits consume more than 90% of the district’s budget (with healthcare benefits increasing 6% annually and CalSTRS payments increasing by $6 million annually), TK-3 class sizes are at 1:27, employees (particularly teachers) feel cheated for not having had more than one 2% raise in past 6 years, Special Education requires significant funds (tens of millions of dollars) from general education funding to provide mandated instruction…and our technology upgrades are being paid by local school bonds, not the state! Yet the district is still facing a $70 million deficit in their 2015-16 budget…

    Yes, education funding is not as dire as it was a few years ago, but by no means is CA providing a quality education to its students (or a quality job experience for its teachers). As much as the simple numbers make it look like schools are doing well compared to other states and other times, I would encourage CBP to wade into the murky water to see what the buying power is for the current CA funding level for education. The LAO surveyed districts and reported what was lost during the recession–from teachers (and class size ratios) to spending for former categorical programs [http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/edu/year-three-survey/year-three-survey-050212.pdf]–but no one has looked at whether any of this has been restored. I can tell you that in our district, it hasn’t.

  3. Katherine 2 years ago2 years ago

    Did you know that Prop 30 permanently diverted $6 BILLION in sales taxes from the Prop 98 calculations – even after Prop 30 expires? When you take this into account, what does the net increase look like? Personally, I would rather see a long term solution that helps schools, increases transparency, and at least lessens Sacramento shell games.

  4. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    Maybe I don't understand English as used in this paragraph: LEAs receive funds from the EPA based on their proportionate share of the statewide revenue limit amount, which includes the allowance for necessary small schools, and charter school general purpose funding. An LEA’s EPA entitlement is reduced so that funding from local property taxes and EPA combined does not exceed an LEA’s revenue limit or charter school general purpose entitlement, provided that at a minimum, each … Read More

    Maybe I don’t understand English as used in this paragraph:

    LEAs receive funds from the EPA based on their proportionate share of the statewide revenue limit amount, which includes the allowance for necessary small schools, and charter school general purpose funding. An LEA’s EPA entitlement is reduced so that funding from local property taxes and EPA combined does not exceed an LEA’s revenue limit or charter school general purpose entitlement, provided that at a minimum, each LEA receives at least $200 per unit of average daily attendance (ADA) in EPA funds. A corresponding reduction is made to an LEA’s state aid under the principal apportionment equal to the amount of the EPA entitlement. For most non excess tax LEAs, the EPA entitlement will directly offset the state aid, resulting in no net difference.

    This is the answer to one of the FAQs here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/aa/pa/pafaq.asp

    To me, this says that the allocation is made from the totality of the funds made available by Prop 98. Prop 30 does not increase these funds. Prop 30 merely guarantees their distribution. So, the rising tide raised all the boats and Prop 30 is there as a backdoor enhancer to the overall funding. The next question, of course, is where are those $11,190. I remember clearly when Deasy complained bitterly about the ADA allocated to LAUSD not that long ago. He referred to the “lousy $5000” the state gave him per kid. Don’t forget that LCFF includes all state and local taxes. Anyway, I think they are wearing rose-colored glasses because the “encroaching” programs are not included here…

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