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

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.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • 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.