As you are likely aware from communications from your schools, or the news, the state is predicting a budget shortfall at a level never before seen. The budget is highly complex, and is the responsibility of the State Legislature. The Governor can make proposals and set a tone, but ultimately, the State Assembly and Senate have to pass a budget, which is then handed to the Governor to sign.
The next fiscal year is projected to have a $16 Billion shortfall. The largest that the state has experienced to date was $4 Billion. The Governor is proposing a 10% cut across all departments, except for entitlements (which constitute the majority of the budget).
Because the state is in a declared budget crisis, the schools may not be protected by Proposition 98 that was voted into place to protect school funding. In short, Prop 98 has not yet been suspended, but the Governor is proposing that the Legislature suspend it for next year.
The end result is that LVUSD is being told that it will lose as much as $6.8 million of the almost $100 million budget it has. Approximately 86% of LVUSD’s expenses are personnel, and approximately 85% of the revenue for the schools comes from the state. This change would move the state into next to last place for spending per pupil.
There will be a large scale forum to discuss the issues among not just LVUSD, but all the local school districts in the Conejo Valley. All those interested should attend this forum on Wed, April 2nd, 4:30pm at Thousand Oaks High School, Performing Arts Building.
There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and it’s difficult for most media to give you a solid overview beyond quick clips. Here’s a Westlake Revelations description on the major ones below.
Current Funding Levels
The majority of our school funding comes from the state of California. Other funds are derived from Federal sources, and some (like Measure E and developers’ fees) are local. The numbers are complex — sometimes you’ll see $5800 of revenue, other times, you’ll see about $7000, and still other times, you’ll see about $11,000. What is important is to look at which number someone is referring to. For example, is it state monies? Or is it Federal money that is given to the schools via the state? Whatever the number is, when you compare, just make sure you look at the same numbers across the board.
CA per pupil spending is approximately $1700 less per child than the national average. If LVUSD were to receive funding at the national average, it would have about $20 million more per year in revenue. And, as the state determines the amount of money for each district, LVUSD receives approximately $200 less per student than the average for the state.
Excluding capital outlay and interest on debt, CA spends an average of $7,081 per student for K-12 education. By comparison, New Jersey and New York schools, which rank 1st and 2nd respectively in per pupil spending, are getting $12,200 per student. Looked at it in another way, for every $1000 of personal income, Californians spend $34 per $1000 (about 40th in State rankings), compared to the national average of about $38 per $1000. This can be a good indicator as it accounts for area cost differences in different states.
When it comes to per-pupil expenditures (adjusted for regional cost differences), California ranks 46th in the nation, which is down from 43rd two years prior. The proposed cuts would move California to 50th place (next to last) in the country. (There are 51 spots as the District of Columbia is included in addition to the states.)
According to the National Center for Education Statistics for 2005-2006, California ranked almost last in terms of the ratio of total school staff to students. The state had only 72% as many school staff members as the average state.
With respect to administrators, California had 274 students per administrator. That was significantly higher than the U.S. average of 174 and higher still than the average of 109 in Texas, another of the five most populous states (i.e., California has significantly fewer administrators per student). California had only 33% as many district officials/administrators as the national average and only 63% as many school principals and assistant principals as the national average.
With respect to teachers, California ranked 49th, with 75% as many as the national average. California ranked 51st (aka last) on guidance counselors and librarians. California had only 1.1 guidance counselors per 1,000 students, compared to an average of 2.1 nationally and only 0.2 librarians per 1,000 students, compared to 1.1 nationally.
On a different note, while there’s complexity behind it, reserves that the district keeps cannot be used in any reasonable way to solve the budget shortfall, and even if they could, they would be a short term solution for a long term problem.
By law, any certificated teachers/administrators that may be subject to a change in their status (laid off, moved to a different job, or demoted) in the next year, must be notified of that possibility by March 15th of the prior school year. That has now happened. While every year certain types of people are given notice so that the district can keep its options open, this year there are additional notices. These are NOT layoffs, they are a notice of the possibility of a layoff.
Based on a preliminary list of potential cuts, 32 positions have been given notice of the possibility of layoffs, in order to keep the district’s options open. This includes:
* Elementary Counselors
* At Risk Secondary Counselors
* Middle School Deans
* Continuation HS Principal
* Regional Occupational Program Coordinator
* Assistant Director of Special Education
* Director of Education Technology
* Kinder- 5th grade teachers
* High School Teachers
* Elementary PE Teacher
There are more steps in the process before any of these people are actually laid off, if they are laid off. Included in this is that Education Code allows any noticed employee to request a hearing to examine the process.
Classified employees have essentially a 45 day notice requirement, so they don’t fall under this March 15th deadline. That said, by law, the district may not outsource any position held by an employee that’s a member of the district’s Classified union. Also, volunteers cannot replace these positions (which may not even be a good idea anyway), but they certainly can assist.
Board’s Direction and Instructions
The Board of Education has directed that the first goal is to maintain the quality of the educational program within the resources available. There are two things that this meant — looking for revenue “enhancements” or increases, and looking at expense savings or cuts.
The District is looking at a number of ways to increase revenue. While obviously harder to do, there are proposals for:
* approving additional cell site rentals
* increasing Buttercup Tuition, charge in summer
* Building lease/move Indian Hills High School
* increasing the number of students permitting in from other districts
* improving attendance from 96.5% to 97% (state pays on average daily attendance)
* asking the Las Virgenes Education Foundation to contribute directly to the district
Aside from personnel, the district is looking at a large number of cuts. In all, these represent a conservative decrease in expenses of approximately $3.2 million. The hope is that when the dust settles on the state budget that this will be enough, despite the current estimated impact on LVUSD of the Governor’s proposed budget of approximately $6.8 million. There are some alternative revenue increases being proposed, but in large part, handling the budget comes in the form of cuts, such as:
* reducing custodial staff
* reduce tech support services
* shut down auxiliary classrooms to save utilities
* reduce English Learners Programs
* reduction of non-IEP requirements
* elimination of refrigerators/microwaves for staff
* reduce district office administrators and staff
* restructure Community Learning Center
* elimination or reduction of 4/5 Science Program
* restructuring elementary schools
* eliminate elementary librarian services
* eliminate elementary counseling services
* eliminate 3 Deans at middle schools charged to safety and security
* eliminate middle school librarian services
* reduce secondary counseling at middle schools
* reduce secondary counseling at high schools
* restructure or close Indian Hills High School
* reduce high school sections
* limit offerings on summer school
* eliminate high school librarian services
* eliminate college and career centers
* close high school pools
* limit absences for graduating seniors to attend graduation ceremonies
The District has already taken certain actions, like a freeze on any non-essential hires and purchasing. Other cuts, including the ones listed above, will be discussed in detail and determined by the School Board over the next few months in study sessions and Board meetings. The Board has stated that their objective is to minimize the effect of any cuts on the students in the classroom.
This list is in constant flux. You can keep up to date on the budget cut news from the district at the LVUSD web site:
C.O.R.E. – Californians Organized to Rescue Education – is a group formed by the LVUSD PFA/PFC presidents and community members whose goals are to inform LVUSD parents and community of the impact of the proposed state budget cuts and to make their voices heard by the government.
There will be a large scale forum to discuss the issues among not just LVUSD, but all the local school districts in the Conejo Valley. All those interested should attend.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Thousand Oaks High School
Performing Arts Building
2323 N. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks
District Superintendents from Conejo, Las Virgenes, Moorpark, Oak Park and Simi Valley will provide information regarding proposed budget cuts.
In addition, others from the state government have been invited. The Governor was invited, but declined. Jack O’Connell (State Superintendent) & several legislators have also been invited, but have not responded.
* 2008-09 Education Budget Briefing
* Regional Impact
* Q & A Session
* What you can do
Organized and Sponsored by:
C.O.R.E. (Citizens Organized to Rescue Education) & 10,000 member Conejo Valley 12th council PTA
In addition, C.O.R.E. is setting up phone trees at all the school sites for parents to call Assembly Members and ask them not to cut funding to the schools.
Proposition 98 Petition
As touched on before, California voters enacted Proposition 98 in 1988 as an amendment to the State Constitution. This measure, which was later amended by Proposition 111, establishes a minimum annual funding level for K-14 schools (K-12 schools and community colleges). Proposition 98 funding constitutes over 70 percent of total K-12 funding and about two-thirds of total community college funding.
When Prop 98 started in 1988-89 fiscal year, it required the state to spend 39% of the general fund of the state budget on education.
Under normal circumstances, Prop 98 determines the amount of funding a couple of ways. In years of strong economic growth, requires spending on education to equal the previous years spending plus per capita growth and student enrollment adjustment. In years of weak economic growth, it guarantees prior years spending plus adjustment for enrollment growth, increases for any changes in per capital general fund revenues, and an increase by 0.5 percent in state general funds.
Prop 98 can only be suspended with the consent of a 2/3 supermajority vote of the California Legislature. As part of his overall budget proposal, Governor Schwarzenegger has asked that Proposition 98 be suspended so that he can cut 4.8 billion dollars in education funding to the California public schools.
There is a petition that has been started to keep Prop 98 in place. If that is your belief, you may want to sign the petition online at:
One interesting note is that California is one of the few states that requires a 2/3rds vote of the legislature to pass a budget. As a result, this almost always requires that some votes come from the minority party in the state legislature. In other words, if the Democrats control the legislature (as they do now), they will have to get at least 8 Republicans to vote with them. With the differences in what each party will accept, this makes it difficult to pass a budget.
C.O.R.E. is encouraging residents to contact their representatives and express your opinions about state funding for the schools.
Assembly (Dist. 41 – Dem)
Assembly Member Julia Brownley
Sacramento, CA 94249-0041
6355 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Suite 205
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
Senate (Dist. 23 – Dem)
Senator Sheila James Kuehl
Sacramento, CA 94248-0001
10951 West Pico Blvd. Suite 202
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Los Angeles Office
300 South Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013