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 Governor´s Education Budget Bleak, But Long Way From Final

​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.