We reported today that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to fund K-12 education at current levels next year — as long as voters approve a measure in a June special election (date TBD) to extend some existing taxes for another five years.
It was a relief to many in the state’s public schools, given the predictions of mid-year cuts and drastic reductions for 2011-12. But even if California voters do approve the tax extension and the Legislature does miraculously pass an on-time budget with current K-12 funding levels, school cuts won’t be over. Districts will soon find themselves without the one-time federal dollars (first stimulus money, then Education Jobs funds) that have cushioned the system from the full brunt of state funding cuts.
Which brings us to Oakland Unified. After cutting $122 million from the district’s budget in the last 30 months, its business office is still projecting a structural deficit of at least $6 million — under the best-case state funding scenario. At a meeting about a month ago, Oakland principals were asked to “consider and prepare for a scenario where their allocations are reduced by 15 percent,” said district spokesman Troy Flint, confirming a rumor I heard recently.
Fifteen percent! Flint said it wasn’t a formal request –or a workshop to draft different budget scenarios — but an advisory to “help set expectations.” As he explains:
It’s part of the preparation process because we don’t want site administrators to be blindsided by late disclosures if we can avoid it. We want to be proactive about sharing news and projections so principals can plan accordingly. Part of that involves being frank about the fact that, last year, 65 percent of the cuts occurred outside the school-based budgeting process and that ratio is unsustainable. As a result, schools will likely be asked to absorb a budget reduction greater than the 5-percent cut they endured last year. How much exactly, will be determined by analysis of the Governor’s current budget proposal, as well as pending decisions regarding the revenue limit and the tax extension measure.
Did any of your schools draft such budget proposals? What was cut?