Part of the Bay Area News Group

How deep is the cut to public schools (really)?

By Katy Murphy
Friday, March 13th, 2009 at 6:26 pm in finances, politics.


photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

California schools are taking a big cut this year and next, no doubt about it. But by how much? Depends on who you ask.

The California Department of Education says it’s $11.6 billion, total, between this year and next, a figure that’s being used widely in the education world, especially on Pink Friday.

But according to Jennifer Kuhn, a K-12 education analyst for the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, California schools are taking a $5.2 billion hit ($2.4 billion in program cuts this academic year, and $2.8 billion in 2009-10).

That’s a pretty big difference.

After I left a message with Kuhn to verify the $11.6 billion figure, she and a colleague – who had also heard that number in news reports – sat down and tried to figure out ways that someone might ”get to” that amount.

One way, she said, is to count the 5 percent cost-of-living adjustment that schools won’t receive in 2008-09 and 2009-10 – about $6 billion, total. That’s money that they would have received in “a healthy year,” she said.

It turns out that the CDE is including some of that in its grand total. It’s also calling a $3.2 billion delayed payment — an accounting maneuver used to balance the state’s books by giving schools some of their 2008-09 money in July, after the new fiscal year has started — a cut.

That deferred payment does hurt schools, Kuhn said, but it’s not really accurate to call it a cut, since schools will get the money.

Either way, it’s painful, whether you call it $5.2 billion or $11.6 billion. I just thought I’d spell it out for you so that you could choose, for yourself, which one to use.

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  • Nancy

    Well, if either way it will painful, then I guess all of locals have nothing really more to lose. Then I guess question is what we can take back or not give. Please note that if $1 dollar of Measure E/G money is going to contractor profiteers, then maybe Oaklanders should first start with a repeal movement of the Measure E/G money.

  • http://www,mikemcmahon.info Mike McMahon

    A school district receives a substanial amount (over 50%) of revenue from the State that is called Base Revenue Limit(BRL). The BRL is multiplied by the district’s average daily attendance (ADA) to generate General Fund dollars for a district. I will use Alameda Unified to show how the State budget impacts a district. In Oakland’s case your BRL is a few dollars higher and your ADA is over three times higher.

    In 2007/08 AUSD BRL was $5,777 and with 10,000 student ADA we received $57.7 million general fund dollars. The state passed budget in September, 2008 slightly raised the BRL but the recently passed State in February lowered our 2008/09 BRL to $5,627. In addition our BRL for 2009/10 will be lowered again to $5,575. So for 2008/09 we lose $1.5 million and an additional half million dollars in 2009/10. So AUSD will be receiving less approximately $2 million less a year while our general operating costs for personnel, insurance, energy and technology will be increasing.

    I will not cover the loss of categorical funding (up to 20% for some programs) but would say programs will be reduced in districts, like Adult Education.