Education Funding

Calif. Schools Chief, Teachers’ Union Sue Governor Over Funding

By Linda Jacobson — August 10, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

California state schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell and the California Teachers Association took their battle with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the state budget to the next level Aug. 8 by filing a lawsuit that charges the governor with failing to provide schools with money they are guaranteed under state law.

Filed in superior court in Sacramento, the lawsuit asks that Mr. Schwarzenegger come up with $3.1 billion. That sum, Mr. O’Connell said in a press release, “would enable us to keep 100 schools open that are slated to be closed, to save class-size reduction in all K-3 programs, and to extend that program to the 4th grade.”

The lawsuit refers to a deal made between the governor and education groups in January 2004, in which he borrowed $2 billion from the state’s Proposition 98 education funding formula to help balance the budget until California’s economy improved. Because the budget for the current fiscal year, 2005-06, which began in July, was calculated based on that lower level of funding as well, the amount the state now owes schools for two years has reached $3.1 billion, according to the suit.

The complaint, according to a statement from CTA Vice President David A. Sanchez, “is meant to force the governor to honor his word, the will of the people, and to ensure California students get no less than the minimum school funding guaranteed under our constitution. The governor hasn’t just broken a promise, he’s broken the law.”

Won’t ‘Stand Up’

But H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California finance department, contended that the lawsuit was unlikely to “stand up in court” because the nonpartisan legislative analyst’s office, as well as the legislature, agreed to the 2005-06 budget.

“Two branches of government came to the same conclusion,” Mr. Palmer said.

Had the Proposition 98 formula been followed, he added, schools and community colleges actually would have received about $750 million less than the $50 billion they are slated to receive. According to the governor’s office, Proposition 98 funds have increased by $3 billion over the 2004-05. An initiative passed by voters in 1998, Prop. 98 establishes a minimum level of funding in the state constitution for schools and community colleges. It sets a base level of funding that is adjusted year to year based on attendance and enrollment growth.

“If the formula would have automatically been able to run its course, there would have been a lower level of funding,” Mr. Palmer said. “[Gov. Schwarzenegger] didn’t want to let that formula shortchange the schools.”

Three public school parents also joined the case on behalf of their children. In the press release from the CTA, Amelia Juarez, a mother of four, said that in her city of Moreno Valley, east of Los Angeles, the school district is growing by more than 1,000 students each year, and that funding is a problem.

“Class sizes are increasing, and we are down to bare bones when it comes to assisting kids,” she said. “I believe the governor should follow the law and return money to the public schools based on the law and his agreement.”

The CTA is an affiliate of the National Education Association. At the NEA convention in Los Angeles last month, Reg Weaver, the president of the 2.7 million-member union, said the national office was sending staff members and resources to help the CTA campaign against other spending proposals of the governor’s, including a new 401(k)-type pension plan for teachers and other state employees that Mr. Schwarzenegger plans to put before the voters in a special election this November.

Events

Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Funding 6 Lawsuits That Could Shake Up How States Pay for Schools
Far removed from annual budgets, these lawsuits hold the potential to force states to direct more funds to their schools.
6 min read
Large white hand holding a weighing scale with a bag of money on one side and books with floating letters on the other side showing a balance of knowledge and money
iStock/Getty
Education Funding States Are Rolling in Surplus Cash, But It's Not All Good News for Schools
Some states are ramping up education spending, while others are leaving districts disappointed.
7 min read
Illustration of a man holding oversized money.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty
Education Funding Education Equity Expert: 'We've Gotta Give Up the Notion of Local Control'
David Sciarra, stepping down as head of the Education Law Center, says states have been let off the hook in the push for education equity.
8 min read
David Sciarra, executive director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, an advocacy group for children in low-income cities, looks at paperwork during a hearing in a school funding case before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Trenton, Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
David Sciarra, executive director of the Newark-based Education Law Center, an advocacy group for children in low-income cities, looks at paperwork during a hearing in a school funding case before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Trenton, Wednesday, April 20, 2011.
John O'Boyle/AP/Pool
Education Funding How School Funding Falls Short, by the Numbers
See how states measure up in an annual report on state school funding and equity.
1 min read
A white man looks up as he leans on a red ladder against a tall stack of coins
E+/Getty