The San Diego school board Tuesday night sought a way to show state legislators how much money they would need to reduce class sizes, expand college prep courses and meet other goals, along with ways to bring that funding to local schools.
Trustees John Lee Evans and Richard Barrera said “woefully inadequate” funding necessitated a means for legislators and the public “to understand what would be achieved with increased funding.”
“We want to come up with our own San Diego definition of what this really means to have adequate funding,” Evans said. “Rather than just going and asking ‘Please give us more money’ we need to show them what we can produce with what we were given.”
The trustees said the state system requires districts to annually plead for additional money, but there was no long-term plan to achieve the funding called for in the state constitution.
In an effort to remedy that, the school board and Superintendent Cindy Marten will develop an advocacy plan prior to starting budgeting process at end of the calendar year.
The plan will include an estimate of how much money would be needed to implement the goals laid out in the Local Control Accountability Plan, which mandates that districts focus on eight areas related to student achievement, and the district’s goals, such as lowering class sizes, expanding college prep courses and upping support for students learning English as a second language.
District officials will also highlight the “funding gap” between what they need for the 2015-16 academic year’s budget and what the state has proposed.
“What we’ve all said is we have inadequate funding, but we haven’t defined what inadequate funding means,” Evans said. Officials will also be tasked with getting other districts onboard and come up with their own estimates of how much they would need to improve student achievement.
Barrera and Evans said that could potentially lead to a statewide calculation of a base funding amount that could be considered adequate. The plan would also include asking the Legislature to hold hearings early next year regarding generating the needed revenue, which could include “significant tax reform,” according to the trustees.
“The first issue is ‘What is adequate funding for public education,’ and the second issue is ‘How are we going to pay for it,”‘ Evans said.”Under the current system, there’s not enough money to pay for it, so there’s going to have to be some major tax reform.”
—City News Service
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