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Local school officials react to Brown’s budget proposal

Governor's spending plan includes new education funding

Posted: January 10, 2013 5:06 p.m.
Updated: January 10, 2013 5:06 p.m.

Schools stand to regain some state funding lost during a series of recession-driven cuts under the budget proposal unveiled Thursday by California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under Brown’s proposal, statewide spending on kindergaten-through-12th grade public schools and on two-year public colleges would total $56.2 billion for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

That would return the state to almost pre-recession levels of funding for education.

Brown also proposed allocating $1.8 billion to pay back school districts for money that was due them but not paid during previous years.

Additionally, Brown said he wants to eliminate many “categorical” programs — those with earmarked funds for specific purposes. In doing so, Brown said school districts would have more control over how they spend their money.

“I want to put those decisions closer to the classroom,” Brown said.

The governor’s latest school funding proposal would keep the current system’s feature of attendance-based funding in place, but it would also increase funding by up to 35 percent based on a district’s proportion of English-language learners, foster children and low-income students.

“This really is a classic case of justice,” Brown said. “To unequals, we have to give more to approach equality.”

Brown had previously proposed similar changes to the state funding model earlier this year, but he faced criticism from some who claimed the proposal would needlessly divert money away from more affluent, suburban schools.

While Santa Clarita Valley school districts are still examining what such a system would mean for them, some officials said there may be cause for concern.

Gail Pinsker, a spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said Brown’s last proposal of this type would have cost the district millions of dollars.

Pinsker said the state does need to reform its “broken” school funding system and emphasized that the district had yet to take a critical look at Brown’s latest proposal.

“His first shot at it was not going to be a good change for the Santa Clarita Valley,” Pinsker said.

Joan Lucid, superintendent of the Saugus Union School District, said Brown’s previous proposal would have also negatively affected her district.

Lucid also said it was necessary for the state to restore education funding that has been cut over the past several years.

“We’re still being funded at 2007 levels,” Lucid said. “But there’s nothing out there you can buy that costs what it did in 2007.”
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