School leaders from throughout San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties
convened at the San Diego County Office of Education for a 2010 Budget
Perspectives workshop, hearing the dire state of potential school
funding for the 2010-2011 school year.
Kevin Gordon of the School Innovations and Advocacy company, the County
Office of Education´s legislative advocate based in Sacramento,
cautioned the audience of superintendents, board members and chief
business officers to be mindful that as bleak at Governor
Schwarzenegger’s initiation 2010-11 budget is, "There´s nothing in it
you can depend on because the fiscal state of the budget is so fluid.
The January budget never resembles the final product," Gordon said.
With that disclaimer, Gordon said the cuts contained in the Governor’s preliminary budget range from $200-$280 per student.
Thirteen school board members and 26 district superintendents were in
the audience, and 39 school districts from the three counties were
represented, joining County Superintendent of Schools Randy Ward and
County Board of Education President Sharon Jones and her county board
colleague, John Witt.
Gordon explained that Governor Schwarzenegger´s attempt to "re-define"
Prop. 98, the state constitutional guarantee of public school funding,
is at the heart of the current debate in Sacramento. "The focus of the
battle of education funding will be primarily on the Governor’s attempt
to re-define the Prop. 98 base," Gordon said. "The Prop. 98 base
directly relates to the potential cuts the legislature can make. If the
governor isn’t successful, it means the cuts for education could be
less. If he is, it means school funding will be hurt."
Public schools in California have suffered historic cuts in recent
years, Gordon said. According to the state´s non-partisan Legislative
Analysts Office (LAO), public schools have lost $17.8 million in cuts
and unpaid cost-of-living allowances over the last two years. More than
half the cuts among all state programs---including health and welfare,
transportation, prisons and all other public services---in last year´s
state budget were imposed on public schools, Gordon said.
The Governor’s preliminary budget for 2010-11 proposes that education
absorb 28 percent of all cuts in the state’s general fund budget.
"The objective in our workshop is to make sure education leaders
understand the board school funding issues in the state, as well as the
implications for individual programs," Gordon said. He explained that
many of the specific school program cuts now recommended may not
materialize, but the dollar-figure of those cuts will very likely still
be reached to making other, yet-to-be-identified reductions.