What issues do we face in
Where does the district get most of
its educational funding?
State Funding. Governor Brown
has stated that CA K-12 schools have been fully funded a year earlier than
planned. What the Governor doesn’t say is what his definition is of full
funding. Full funding is getting our schools back to the level of funding we
had in 2008, before the big cuts we received from the state. That means in
2018, we have now reached the level of funding we had 10 years ago! We need
more funding from the state! We must continue to advocate at every level,
local, state, and federal.
Federal Funding. We do
receive some funding from the Federal Government, but most of those funds
are used for Special Education. That doesn't coverall of our special
education costs. In 1975 the
Education for All Handicapped Children Act, PL 94-142, (renamed the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1990) became law in the
U.S., and it declared that handicapped children could not be excluded from
public school because of their disability, and that school districts were
required to provide special services to meet the needs of handicapped
children. The law also required that handicapped children be taught in a
setting that resembles as closely as possible the regular school program,
while also meeting their special needs. The law stated that states would be
given a grant (starting at 5% a year in 1978, and increasing to 40% a year
in 1982 and for all fiscal years thereafter), of the average per pupil
expenditure in public elementary schools and secondary schools in the United
States. To date the they have never provided more than 15%. This
represents hundreds of millions of dollars that have been lost to us in
SVUSD. This is just one of the many underfunded, or unfunded mandates our
State Funding Allocation. We
receive funding from the state under the Local Control Funding Formula. If
you are in a wealthy area, it is likely that local property taxes are more
than enough to coves the basic grant money each school district receives. If
that is true, then they keep the extra money. This means that schools in
wealthy areas have more money to spend per student. If you live in a low
income area, or an area with many English Language Learners, you receive
more money because more resources are required to educate students in these
classifications. That means if you live in a poor area, you receive more
money. That means if you live in nice Saddleback Valley, where we are
overall not the richest, and not the poorest, we receive the least amount of
money. As you can expect, this is very challenging for our school district.
(See attracting and maintaining the best employees below)
State Mandates. Our
Legislators in Sacramento continue to create laws that require us to do new
things, without any additional funding. A good example is retirement
funding. We receive an increase in revenue from the prior year, and at the
same time the contributions we have to make to STRS and PERS goes up. The
state goes on about how we have received more money, but yet, they have
increased our costs more than they have increased our revenues. Overall, we
end up being behind.
These are a part of our funding, but they aren't enough. Back in the
70's local school districts would put a budget together, and that would be
used to calculate part of the property tax rate. For this and many
other reasons, the property tax rates were getting to the point where many
people could no longer afford to live in their homes. Proposition 13
changed that, and set the base rate at 1%. The result of this was that
property taxes went down dramatically. The unintended consequence was
that now there wasn't enough money for local school districts to run their
schools. The state decided to collect all the property tax money and
provide additional money to fund all the schools in California. There wasn't
enough money to equal the level of funding schools had been receiving in the
past, and California began their slip from first toward worse.
Lottery. Schools in
California currently receive 50% of Lottery revenues. Although the
Lottery was advertised as solving the education funding problem in
California, it is less that 2% of our budget. It does help, but it was
Proposition 30. This
was passed in 2012 and raised the sales tax by .25% for four years and
increased the taxes for those with a high level of income. The money would
go to help education. the Educational community supported this, and
the money did go toward education. What people weren't told was that
Sacramento was planning to cut funding for education, and so when it passed,
the money went to us, but it did not increase our funding because other
funding was cut. In the end, we were just where we were before, but we
could have been cut, so it was helpful. The sales tax actually did expire
after four years, although there was an attempt to make it permanent.
Where does most of the funding
Salaries and Benefits. These
two expenses are a part of total compensation. Total compensation makes up
over 85% of our budget. Employee benefits continue to rise every year. We
are bound by our contracts with our bargains units to charge a set amount
for health insurance, based on the plan each employee have selected. The
school district must make up the difference. This number is quite large.
Employees want , and expect raises every year. The school district does not
receive very much additional ongoing money each year, so we must balance
that money between increasing benefit costs, increase utility and
maintenance costs, and raises. That is why raises are low. After taking into
consideration all of the costs we know are increasing, we can only offer
what is left as raises.
Maintenance, Supplies, Etc. The remaining 15% of our funding goes toward
keeping the lights on. About 2/3rds of that represents fixed costs we
have to cover. That leaves the District with discretionary dollars of
only about 5% of our budget.
Safety. Although our
main objective is
education, we are also responsible for keeping our children and
employees safe. Sadly, as a result of the potential for violence experienced
at other school throughout the country, safety has risen in priority in
terms of the funding required for its achievement. The district spends a significant
amount of money every year to maintain, and improve the safety of our
students and employees. We have to take the necessary steps to protect ourselves against evil.
Although I'm not at liberty to publish the steps we are taking in this area,
rest assured safety is and will remain a top priority in the district.
What other issues impact our
Attracting and retaining the
best employees. The best education possible. In order to do that, you need
the best teachers, the best support staff, and their best administrators.
SVUSD is a great school district that many people want to come to, for many
reasons. But, we have to face the fact that many other schools districts
receive more money than we do, and offer higher salaries. I would say the
majority of the employees we have lost to other districts is because of
money. You cant fault people for wanting to earn more money. Overall though,
each year we have more employees come to our school district than we have
lost to other school districts.
Class sizes. Everyone wants
small class sizes. Many other states have much smaller class sizes than we
do. It comes down to money. If we reduce our class sizes, we will have to
hire more teachers. We will not receive more money for more teachers, since
we will have the same number of total students. In CA we receive less
funding than the average of the 50 states. At one point we spent the most.
Like many things, it come down to money, money that we do not have.