Education Funding

School Groups Ask Duncan to Scrutinize Cuts in California

February 19, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A coalition of school districts and statewide education groups in California is playing a little hardball with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the Republican chief executive’s latest budget proposal.

Ticked off by what they estimate would be a $3.1 billion blow to the state’s K-12 budget if lawmakers agree to the governor’s spending plan, the coalition, calling itself the Education Management Group, fired off a six-page letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan that essentially seeks to rat out the governor for what they say amounts to a budget shell game that hurts schools. (Indisputably, public schools in California have been cut to the bone already over the last two years as the recession-battered state has struggled to balance out-of-whack budgets.)

The Schwarzenegger administration, these groups allege, is using an accounting ruse to give the appearance that California will meet the “maintenance of effort” provision of the federal economic-stimulus law, which requires states to preserve K-12 funding at least at 2006 levels. Maintaining that minimum funding for K-12 is a condition for states to receive money from the stimulus program’s State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. California applied last month for its final share of that fund.

The letter delves into somewhat technical accounting questions around “forward funding” and using “verifiable revenue-based data.” But the upshot is this: The group wants Secretary Duncan to force Gov. Schwarzenegger to play by the rules, a move that it says would stave off about $600 million in cuts to K-12 in fiscal 2011.

Here’s the key paragraph in the letter:

In closing, we greatly appreciate the federal government's investment in schools. In this time of brutal state cuts to education, federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds have served as a lifesaver for California students and schools. We also understand the federal government must be sensitive to the financial problems faced by states. However, the maintenance of effort assurance that California recently submitted to your office seems to seek federal cooperation to cut schools disproportionately and with impunity."

No word on whether anyone from the U.S. Department of Education has responded to the letter, but I’ll update this post when I get an answer.

Most of the school districts that signed the letter are medium-sized suburban systems or small, rural ones. The two biggies that did sign on are San Diego and San Francisco, which together enroll about 190,000 kids. San Diego Unified officials have been particularly pro-active about speaking out against state budget cuts. The district is also notable for being the biggest system that declined to participate in California’s bid for Race to the Top Fund grants under the stimulus program.

And it looks like more advocacy for sparing public schools is in the works, according to this news release from the California Teachers Association.

UPDATE: A second group of advocates for public education in California has also sent a letter to Sec. Duncan that hammers on the same issue. Neither group has heard a peep yet from the department.

Does anyone out there know if the “maintenance of effort” issue is bubbling up in other states?

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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 Reported Essay Are We Asking Schools to Do Too Much?
Schools are increasingly being saddled with new responsibilities. At what point do we decide they are being overwhelmed?
5 min read
Conceptual Illustration
Pep Montserrat for Education Week
Education Funding Interactive Look Up How Much COVID Relief Aid Your School District is Getting
The federal government gave schools more than $190 billion to help them recover from the pandemic. But the money was not distributed evenly.
2 min read
Education Funding Explainer Everything You Need to Know About Schools and COVID Relief Funds
How much did your district get in pandemic emergency aid? When must the money be spent? Is there more on the way? EdWeek has the answers.
11 min read
090221 Stimulus Masks AP BS
Dezirae Espinoza wears a face mask while holding a tube of cleaning wipes as she waits to enter Garden Place Elementary School in Denver for the first day of in-class learning since the start of the pandemic.
David Zalubowski/AP
Education Funding Why Dems' $82 Billion Proposal for School Buildings Still Isn't Enough
Two new reports highlight the severe disrepair the nation's school infrastructure is in and the crushing district debt the lack of federal and state investment has caused.
4 min read
Founded 55 years ago, Foust Elementary received its latest update 12-25 years ago for their HVAC units. If the school receives funds from the Guilford County Schools bond allocation, they will expand classrooms from the back of the building.
Community members in Guilford, N.C. last week protested the lack of new funding to improve the district's crumbling school facilities.
Abby Gibbs/News & Record via AP