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Santa Clara Education Desk: Feb 5, 2014

2014-2015 to See Largest Increase in State Education Spending Since 2000

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2014-2015 budget represents the biggest increase in school funding since Grey Davis was governor in 2000, Assistant Superintendent Business Services Mark Allgire told the Santa Clara Unified School Board at the Jan. 26 meeting. Brown’s budget also includes a rainy day fund specifically earmarked for education.

Part of the windfall comes from “skyrocketing” Prop 98* funds from $5.5 billion to replace Prop 98 funds that the state diverted to close holes in the rest of the budget and full Prop 98 funding going forward. In addition, Brown’s proposal also includes $4.5 billion in additional funding through the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) passed last year, $317 million for Prop 39 energy efficiency projects, $188 million for the Emergency Repair Program, and sets the 2014-2015 ADA (average daily attendance allowance) at $751.

Despite these increases, California remains next to last in U.S. in terms of dollars spent pupil – $8,341 vs. $11,364 nationally – and class sizes remain higher – 26 per teacher vs. 16 per teacher nationally, Allgire noted. The budget also doesn’t include funding for new facilities, unfunded pension liabilities, and no additional special ed funding.

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The bottom line, Allgire said, is that small districts gain little long term from the new funding formula – only about six percent – while districts with the highest concentrations of specially targeted students – for example, socio-economically disadvantaged students – will see their funding grow eventually by 20 percent.

Trustee Jim Canova noted that in his talks with members of the state legislature, “few had an understanding of Basic Aid** districts. And where they was an understanding, they think of Palo Alto. We’re very different [and] we need to communicate very clearly with our representatives that relief in the ‘fair share’ area would be very welcome.”

Asked if the district would benefit more from the new funding formula if it weren’t a Basic Aid district, Allgire noted, “I think that’s worth trying to estimate.” Last year, when the board looked at the new funding formula, the projections were that the district had a $10 million advantage as a Basic Aid district. Those projections also forecast that by the time LCFF was fully in place in 2022, SCUSD would become a Revenue Limited district.

*Passed in 1988, Prop 98 guarantees that a certain percentage of the state budget will be spent on education. It also includes “educational revenue augmentation funds” (ERAF) or “fair share” payments to the state that effectively shift funds from richer districts to poorer ones.

**California school districts are determined to be either “Basic Aid” if local property taxes provide more funding — schools receive about 40 percent of local property tax – than what the state provides. “Revenue Limited” districts, on the other hand, are funded by the state using property taxes as well as money from other state and federal programs. When Proposition 13 in 1978 dramatically cut property tax revenues, most districts became Revenue Limited and there are fewer than100 Basic Aid districts left.

Workshop Introduces Next Generation Science Standards

While most of the focus on curriculum lately has been on math and English, science education is also coming in for its share of restructuring – especially as science and engineering is so critical to our tech economy. On Jan. 23, Sandy Yellenberg of the Santa Clara County Office of Education conducted a study session on Next Generation Science Standards.

So what’s new since those of us now eligible for social security went to high school? To begin with, instead of the old categories of physics, chemistry, and biology, there are now four categories: physical science; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and application of science.

There’s also a greater emphasis on practical application – pure science asks questions and seeks answers, applied science (engineering) identifies problems and seeks solutions. Also, the curriculum now includes signal processing (i.e. computer science), engineering project processes, climate change, ecosystems, and biodiversity. See the entire presentation at tinyurl.com/lj9pb7g,/.

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