Brown’s budget projects increase in K-12, higher education spending


With a focus on the K-12 funding formula, a fully-online community college and nearly free community college, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $131.7 billion state budget for 2018-19 includes several increases for California’s sectors of public education.

Brown unveiled his proposed state budget to the public Wednesday.  The budget calls for an additional $3 billion to fully implement the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) while also adding more than $5 billion to the state’s Rainy Day fund

“In addition to the Rainy Day fund being full and ready for the next recession… We’re fully funding the Local Control Finding Formula which puts out money, taking into account the needs of low-income families, families that don’t speak English at home and foster care kids,” Brown said.

Overall, education spending in 2018-19 will count for 53.6 percent of the state’s spending, with $55.2 billion, or 41.9 percent, spent on K-12 education and $15.5 billion, or 11.7 percent, spent on higher education.

The proposed General Fund Expenditures in millions of dollars and percentages as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2018-19 state budget. Courtesy of 2018-19 Governor’s Budget Summary

K-12 Education

Public schools in California serve nearly 6 million students in nearly 1,000 school districts and 1,000 charter schools throughout the state.

In 2018-19, Brown proposed to increase the funding to K-12 to $78.3 billion, reflecting a 66 percent increase in funding since the recession in 2011 when funding dropped to $47.3 billion.  This reflects an increase of $4.6 billion compared to 2017-18 that will expand the state system of technical support, provide districts with discretionary one-time funding and fully fund the state’s K-12 public education funding, the LCFF, two years ahead of schedule.

“Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides a big boost to our public school students,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement.  “The proposal shows how far we have come as a state in the past seven years in increasing investments in education so our students can continue to succeed in college and the 21st Century economy.”

It also provides $16,085 for per pupil spending in the next fiscal year, compared with $7,008 in 2011-12.  However, the California School Boards Association—which represents elected school board officials and county offices of education—states this funding is not enough as California still lags behind other states in per-pupil spending.

“The state of California is still 41st out of the 50 states in per pupil spending so we are still very low when it comes to that,” said Dave Caldwell, public relations officer for the William S. Hart Union High School District.  “We’re on the upward climb, but we’re still 41st out of 50.”

The growth in Proposition 98 Funding, which support K-12 education and higher education, from 2007-08 to 2018-19. Courtesy of 2018-19 Governor’s Budget Summary

A major element of the budget is the additional $3 billion in LCFF funding to fully implement the program two years ahead of schedule.

In 2013, California enacted LCFF to give local districts more flexibility over how money was spent and to focus on English Learners, students from low-income families and youth in foster care.

“Education is a local matter,” Brown said.  “The way to improve scores is for teachers to work as effectively as they can and get the support of the rest of the school and the principal and the school board.  This is a local matter.”

But an investigation by CALmatters into the initiative found that the local funding is difficult to track and have produced little results for students in struggling schools or for students that are disadvantaged.

To increase accountability for the new funding, Brown proposed that districts link their Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) and their budgets to show how the funding is being used to increase student achievement.

Local districts are still waiting to see what final impact the governor’s budget will have on their individual funding and resources, as items can change after the budget’s May Revise and adoption in the summer.

“There are so many variables,”  Caldwell said.  “The LCFF can swing things for our district a couple of different ways… We’re just waiting and seeing how it’s going to affect us.”

The budget also proposes an increase in special education funding, with an additional $125 million in Proposition 98 funds and $42.2 million federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.  It also proposes dedicating $100 million to increasing and retaining special education teachers in California.

Another focus in K-12 education is the development of the Career Technical Education and Strong Workforce Development Program.

The $212 million in additional funding will be aimed at increasing the Career Technical Education programs administered through local community colleges’ Strong Workforce Programs.

“I share the Governor’s commitment to expanding access to career technical education programs that provide hands-on, minds-on learning,” Torlakson said.

Higher Education

With an increase of $892.8 million in higher education funding, the proposed budget provides $33.7 billion in higher education funding and gives each university system an annual 3 percent increase in funding.

These increases reflect “flat tuition” and Brown stated that he hopes universities and community colleges continue to improve their students’ success without tuition increases.

Proposed funding for California Community College also increased by 4 percent, of $570 million, in the budget.

“We’re pleased to see the governor recognizes the value that community colleges provide, both in preparing students for university transfer and in providing the career education needed to meet California’s dynamic workforce needs,” College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne Van Hook said.

As the nation’s largest system of higher education, California Community Colleges serve 2.1 million students at 114 campuses throughout the state.  In 2017, this system of higher education created a “Vision of Success” strategic plan focused on improving student outcomes.

To support this strategic plan, the budget calls on the state to remove the current apportionment funding formula that counts the number of students at a desk at a certain time.

Instead, the new funding formula would encourage community colleges to enroll underrepresented students and rewards colleges that improve students’ success for degree and certificate completion.  No district is expected to receive less funding as the new formula is implemented, according to Brown.

The growth in per student funding for higher education at the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges from 2011-12 to 2018-19. Courtesy of 2018-19 Governor’s Budget Summary

The budget also dedicates $120 million to creating the state’s first fully online community college, aimed at serving older students who are in the workforce but lack a postsecondary degree or credential.

“It’s important because there are people 25, 30, 35 or older that are in the workforce that just have a high school degree and don’t have the skills they really need to improve their income and improve their job prospects,” Brown said.  “This is targeted to several million people who could upgrade their skills by taking online courses and maintaining their employment.”

The online college is expected to serve adults who do not have the time or ability to enroll in traditional college classes.

“California community colleges are serving 2.1 million students each year, but we are still not meeting the needs of 2.5 million others who for a variety of reasons cannot attend classes on our campuses,” Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a statement.  “It’s our responsibility to bring the campus to them, and we can do that through a fully online college.”

The budget also provides $46 million in funding to implement the California College Promise, or Assembly Bill 19, that waives tuition fees for first-year, full-time students.

Under this law, students enrolled in 12 units or more per semester will have some or all of the $46-per-unit fee waived during their first year of community college.

“This budget represents a strong start to the annual budget process for community colleges,” Van Hook said.  “It identifies resources needed to continue building on our efforts to ensure students at College of the Canyons reach their full potential.”

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