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One day after settling their differences, the Legislature on Tuesday quickly approved a $310 billion 2023-24 state budget and sent it to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who signed the bill Tuesday night. Senate Bill 101, the budget, will provide slightly less funding for schools and community colleges than last year, yet assures school districts will have a sizable increase in general operating money by fully funding a cost of living increase.
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For higher education, the budget spares delays and cuts to construction and student housing projects by shifting costs to bonds, provides debt-free college to foster youth, and assures that the current $289 million for the states middle-class scholarship program will continue through 2024-25.
The state budget, which the Assembly approved 62-14 and the Senate passed 32-6, takes effect on Saturday. It marks a retrenchment from three years of record education funding supplemented by tens of billions in one-time federal and state COVID-19 relief, which together set in motion ambitious new programs with eye-popping costs. Those include $4.4 billion for community schools and $4 billion for after-school and summer programs for low-income children through the Expanded Learning Opportunities Program.
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Funding for all of those Newsom priorities remains intact in the new budget, as does an 8.2% cost of living increase for the Local Control Funding Formula, special education and other ongoing programs the top priority of school districts.
Funding for Proposition 98, the formula that sets the portion of the state general fund going to TK-12, community schools and some child care funding, will be $108.3 billion. That is $2.1 billion less than the Legislature adopted a year ago for the current year.
But it is also $1.5 billion more than Newsom had proposed in January for 2023-24. The difference reflects higher projected revenue from local property taxes going to the state for Prop. 98, enabling the Legislature to substantially reduce cuts in one-time funding that Newsom had suggested. Instead of reducing $1.8 billion from the $3.6 billion arts, music and instructional grant program, the cut will be only $200 million. Instead of cutting $2.5 billion from the $7.5 billion learning recovery block grant, the cut will be $1.6 billion, with an intent to restore $379 million in 2025-26 and 2027-28.
The additional revenue will also stave off the Legislatures proposal to delay spending $400 million of $500 million from another Newsom priority, the Golden State Pathways program. Passed last year, it will promote career opportunities for low-income high school students in high-skill, high-wage areas, including technology, education and health. It would combine dual enrollment in college courses, completion of A-G courses required for admission to the University of California and California State University, and workplace apprenticeships.
We are thrilled the governor and Legislature did not attempt to balance the budget on the backs of students of color and other marginalized students by cutting the Golden State Pathways program investment, said Brian Rivas, senior director for policy and government relations, for the advocacy nonprofit Education Trust-West. We hope the California Department of Education will move quickly to roll out these funds so that more students get the preparation they deserve for high-quality college and career opportunities.
The 8.2% cost-of-living adjustment will raise the funding formula, which is the primary funding source for general expenses and additional money for high-needs students, by 4.5% to $79 billion. The additional funding takes into account a projected 3.16% decline statewide in average daily attendance, including fewer students than projected enrolling in traditional kindergarten.
Other additional spending in the education portion of the budget includes:
– $300 million to the funding formula to create what Newsom is calling the equity multiplier program. It will enable at least several hundred high-needs schools to close opportunity and achievement gaps by addressing learning needs for the lowest-performing racial and ethnic student groups, students with disabilities and English learners in those schools. The criteria to qualify for the funding changed in the language accompanying the budget. Instead of only schools with 90% or more students qualifying for free school meals, funding will also factor in school instability, reflecting high rates of expelled and truant students, dropouts, homeless and foster-care students plus a minimum of 70% low-income students.
– $250 million in one-time funding to double grants over five years to high-poverty schools to train and hire literacy coaches for one-on-one and small-group interventions for struggling readers.
– $80 million in ongoing funding for juvenile court and alternative schools operated by county offices of education, in part to expand access to A to G courses, provide vocational training, and aid in post-secondary education.
– $20 million in professional development grants for bilingual teachers.
– $6 million more to the Golden State Teacher Grant program, which offers up to $20,000 to a teacher candidate who commits to working in a priority school for four years, for teacher candidates preparing to become special education teachers. In a related measure, the budget increases what school districts receive for each teacher participating in the Teacher and School Counselor Residency Grant program from $25,000 to $40,000. Residents will be paid at least half of that amount.
– $3.5 million ongoing to county offices of education to stock opioid overdose reversal medication, with at least two units at all middle and high schools within each county offices jurisdiction.
– $1 million to develop a state literacy roadmap to provide guidance on teaching, training and using evidence-based practices on effective reading instruction.
– $1 million for a panel to identify a choice of screening instruments from which all schools must choose, starting in 2025-26, to identify students at risk for dyslexia and other reading difficulties.
– $1 million for professional development and leadership training through the Museum of Tolerance.
Reactions to the negotiated budget were positive overall.
We know the states revenues remain precarious, but this is an education budget to be celebrated. Given the states $31.5 billion budget deficit, the Legislature and governor deserve full credit for boosting core educational services under the Local Control Funding Formula while largely avoiding any painful cuts to the states fledgling suite of ‘whole child’ services, said Derick Lennox, senior director of governmental relations and legal affairs for the C