San Diego County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold released the following statement today after the California Department of Finance announced a $54.3 billion deficit due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the economy:
We urge the governor and legislature to prioritize schools in the next state budget. School district costs naturally rise by about 4% each year; even flat funding erodes schools' purchasing power. A cut, therefore, would be catastrophic at a time our students need additional services to accelerate learning, promote instructional continuity, and address social-emotional and mental health.
The $18.2 billion drop in expected Proposition 98 funding would translate into the biggest cuts to schools we have ever seen in California. In the current environment of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic recession that is upon us, schools cannot afford deep funding cuts. Schools will be asked to do more in the 2020-21 school year than ever before, radically transforming campuses and implementing rigorous health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To protect students and employees, we anticipate the need to purchase everything from additional cleaning supplies to thermometers to hundreds of thousands of face masks.
We are doing our part in planning to reopen schools in a way that meets the needs of California’s children. We need the legislature to do its part as well, prioritizing school funding so that districts can maintain solvency and accelerate student learning.