K-12 schools spared worst-case `trigger cuts’ scenario

California school districts will take a $79 million midyear hit — plus a $248 million cut in home-to-school transportation — as a result of automatic “trigger cuts” set to take effect early next year, according to early news reports, including this story from our Sacramento reporter, Steve Harmon.

That’s far below the $1.5 billion many had feared, based on an earlier fiscal analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office that projected an even greater budget shortfall.

The Sacramento Bee has reported that the $79 million works out to a cut of $11 per student. For Oakland Unified, I believe that would amount to roughly $400,000. As we’ve reported, the district administration says it anticipated a larger cut and kept enough funding in its reserves to absorb it without cutting expenses, mid year.

Subsidized child care, university and community college systems would be more deeply affected, however.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said he expects the $102 million cut will result in a $10 per unit hike to $46, beginning with the summer 2012 terms. That’s on top of a $10 fee increase this fall.

The California Child Care Resource and Referral Network estimates that a $23 million trigger cut to child care programs will leave some 2,500 children without subsidized care in 2012. Many of their parents will be forced to quit their jobs as a result, said Mary Ignatius, a statewide organizer for Parent Voices, a child care advocacy group.

For parents trying to become economically self-sufficient, Ignatius said, “It’s just a constant struggle.”

I also talked to Rick La Plante, a spokesman for the New Haven school district in Union City that’s already cut its school year by a week (the 2011-12 calendar is 175 days long). Even with the smaller cuts, he said, the district might have to shorten it even further.

La Plante said the “knee-jerk reaction” may be to feel relief that the cuts to schools aren’t worse. But, he said, he wouldn’t consider today’s news a pleasant surprise, given the funding levels and continual uncertainty facing California’s public schools.

What was your reaction to the news? How will the trigger cuts affect you or people you know?

Katy Murphy

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

  • OUSD Parent

    I’m glad the schools are spared this time around. I guess we’re not out of the woods yet though. More to come possibly for the 2012-2013 school year?

  • Nextset

    Reminds me of the Post Office death spiral of increasing rates and diminishing first class mail.

    The most interesting cuts are the potential elimination of school buses. I never rode a school bus in my life and never did my parents. In a financial depression there is no reason the taxpayers have to bus other people’s kids to school. Let their parent get them to school or they can walk, carpool, ride a bike or stay home and home school. The whole point of a depression is adversity. If cutting the buses – or charging for them – saves other areas of the school budget that’s a good thing.

    And another thing. Is it time to start closing parts of the University of CA and the State University in order to save basic education? As California collapses because of it’s destruction of it’s tax base, we do not need the liberal arts programs in those schools. We should save the Science Programs and cutting the others might help save the CA private colleges. I’d also keep the Med Schools but seriously cut the Law Schools. There is no reason to keep 3 independent State law schools in Northern CA. Let them merge, at least merge their faculty and administration (admissions cost real money) even if we permit classes in both the Bay Area and Sacramento Area.

    We would not have these problems but for the liberal social programs we have run for generations – including the massive spending on illegal alien invaders. This is the price we pay for it. Maybe Texas can keep it’s school buses. They seem to be able to keep a tax base.

    As far as the budget the only hope of making the State more fiscally responsible is to keep up the choking of cash flow. Given any ability to do so the state government will refuse to change and innovate. I’m voting against Brown’s Tax measures even though I am interested in some aspects of what he wants as well as the Republican counter proposals.

    As I’ve said before, I’d like to see the state eliminate intended gas pumps ala Oregon as a jobs measure. That is effectively a tax increase but it directly creates jobs. We have a proletariat in CA. We should do things to make work and lots of prole service jobs. That’s a tax increase I’d support because it creates jobs controlled by industry and not the government.

    If CA doesn’t change there will be a lot worse to come.

  • Nextset

    typo – untended gas pumps…

  • Cranky Teacher

    Nextset: You cite Texas tax revenue surge but ignore that the Texas comptroller says national recession is over — how does that square with your belief that the economy is a permanent death spiral?

    I’m not an economist, but you seem to have an almost religious fervor in your positions which does not allow the facts to contradict with your predictions.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: I’m not saying the national economy is in a permanent death spiral although it may well be. I am particularly concerned with California which despite having some of the best weather in the nation is destroying itself with social policy applied to it’s state economy.

    I think that CA and it’s municipalities are going to lead the nation in economic disaster – killing it’s tax base while taking on an ever growing slum population fueled with entitlements and out of sight crime. The destruction of the CA public schools k-12 is a part of it.

    As far as fevor – you have a point. People in the front lines get a perception of a war more than those in the interior farmlands. I rather think the older public school teachers have a few things to say about what’s happened also. At the same time I have enough perception of “The Rich” to be aware of the extremes.

    I remember when everybody in the USA wanted to move here. People didn’t want to flee California.

    I’m afraid that CA is going to start doing worse than the rest of the country on important measures from now on. And the CA blacks are on the forefront of the decline. I’d hate to see Oakland looking like sections of Baltimore and Detroit. But look at what happened to them.

    With the public schools in CA running the stats that Los Angeles and Oakland do – failure factories that turn out unemployables – it seems that is our future. Too bad, So Sad.

    As far as the facts – please give me some facts about OUSD having improvement in math and verbal scores among any of the black and brown ethnic groups. Or the other measures of social mobility. But even worse, the products that stick around and “graduate” – how are they doing? Especially compared to those 10 and 20 years prior? Good News please.