In advance of the release of the governor’s revised budget, last week Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Finance released a memo about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the California economy.
This prompted Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) chief, Brian McDonald to issue the following dire warning for the district:
“The news is devastating. Public schools are projected to lose more than $18 billion in Proposition 98 state funding. That means that PUSD could lose more than $35 million in state funding for the 2020-21 fiscal year alone, which is equivalent to a -22% cost of living adjustment (COLA). This will require the district to enact unimaginable cuts unless mitigation steps are implemented or changes are made quickly to the way that California public schools are funded
“Public schools receive approximately 40 percent of the state’s General Fund revenue through the Proposition 98 formula. In Gov. Newsom’s January budget proposal, schools were expected to receive $84 billion through Proposition 98. The new fiscal outlook projects Proposition 98 funding will drop by $18.3 billion since the Governor’s January budget proposal.
“At the same time, costs are expected to rise drastically as we implement social distancing in the classrooms and throughout the school day, provide alternatives to in-person learning, sanitize schools and offices, and provide personal protective equipment in the 2020-2021 school year. The required additional expenditures combined with reductions in State funding, based on the Proposition 98 formula, would require devastating reductions to the PUSD operating budget.
“Schools are crucial to reopening the economy; we are urging Governor Newsom and the California State Legislature to provide for some relief from the state’s rainy day fund, and to advocate for additional federal stimulus funding directly to schools.
“Budgets are a reflection of values, and we are asking the state and federal governments to show their commitment to students and the future of this country.
“PUSD joined with neighboring school districts to advocate for actions by the Governor that could mitigate the need for such drastic cuts. These include the freezing of PERS/STRS increases at the current year level and relief from strict adherence to the 3% reserve for economic uncertainty in each year of the rolling three-year budget cycle.”