Wednesday, November 23 2011 3:04 PM EST2011-11-23 20:04:33 GMT
SALINAS, Calif. - The demands have never been higher on California teachers. Central Coast News wanted to see just how bad budget cuts are affecting classrooms today, so we invited a panel of teachers,More >>
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SALINAS, Calif.- The California education finance system is in dire straights. Monterey County schools have lost $150 million since 2008, and Santa Cruz County schools have lost an estimated $45 million. If that isn't bad enough, it's only expected to get worse come December. That's when the state could trigger $1.4 billion in cuts to K-12 schools, because of a $3.7 billion shortage in state revenue.
That would likely mean cuts to resources, and programs for millions of children statewide. So how did we get to this point? It seems crazy to think California failed when it comes to funding schools when our state is home to one of the largest economies in the world—yes the world. What's even more crazy, is that the problem didn't just pop up out of nowhere. This is a problem that started decades ago.
"You need to essentially throw out the past; you cannot fix what we have." Michael Kirst says there's no fixing when it comes to the education finance system. Kirst is the President of the State Board of Education, and says the system, "has no underlying rationale," and,"it's not coherent."
In 2008, he co-authored a proposal to reform the convoluted system that was shaped in the 1970's. "It's a historical outcome of many decisions over time that have built up over the years-without revisiting-the old decisions."
Before getting into what Kirst would change, you need to first understand what irrational "historical decisions" he's talking about.
We'll start in 1970, that's when schools got most of their money from local property taxes, and California ranked among the top ten states in per-student spending—now it's 46th.
Fast forward to 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13 which placed a cap on property taxes. A win for homeowners perhaps, but it also eliminated more than half of local school revenue.
In 1979, state lawmakers passed Proposition 8 which was a plan to fund schools using money from the California budget. It was a major turning point because it shifted the financial responsibility from local districts, to the state.
Michael Kirst says you need a balanced system in order for students to succeed with the resources they require. "You really need a 3 legged stool, you need a fed component, a state, and a strong local finance component. California has a two legged stool, with very weak local financing."
Right now, the only way for schools to get more money from property taxes is through a voter-approved parcel tax, which requires a two-thirds majority. The other option is if lawmakers change some of their old decisions, but that would take a constitutional amendment and Kirst says none have ever gained enough support to pass.
In 2009 Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D)Santa Monica, proposed Assembly Bill 8, which would have tasked a working group with coming up with a new education funding structure by December 2010. AB-8 passed the House 79-0, and Senate 31-6, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill saying, "I am concerned that this bill provides the appearance of activity without actually translating to achievement."
The move angered education advocates, including Brownley who responded saying the Governor's lack of urgency was, "appalling."
As far as the current situation in Monterey County, Superintendent Nancy Kotowski is concerned about more cuts in December because she asks, "what more can you cut?"
The triggered cuts would mean another $16.2 million out of this year's school budgets. "California has done a good job of defining world class academic standards of what our children need to know and be able to do, our problem is funding it."
To make matters worse, on top of budget cuts--the state is deferring payments to districts, meaning schools aren't even getting the money they're entitled to. Kotowski says schools in her districts can go months without receiving their allotments, so cash becomes a serious issue.
As of right now, 22 of the 24 districts in Monterey County are using reserves to fund themselves. It amounts to $29 million in deficit spending this year alone. The question now, is how long can that last?
Funding California's Education: How it Got So BadMore>>
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Wednesday, May 22 2013 10:41 PM EDT2013-05-23 02:41:02 GMT
Monterey, Calif. - A new generation of Americans, bout 2.4 million, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are now coming home, thousands to the central coast. Estimates are showing 20 to 30 percent of thoseMore >>
Monterey, Calif. - A new generation of Americans, bout 2.4 million, who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are now coming home, thousands to the central coast. Estimates are showing 20 to 30 percent of those are being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. This is the first in a three part Center For Investigative action series on what these young soldiers are facing as they come home and how it will impact the central coast. More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 8:52 PM EDT2013-05-23 00:52:26 GMT
SALINAS, Calif. -- Police have announced the 14-year old boy stabbed in the neck by two women, has died. Officers said the victim has been identified as Ricardo Ruiz of Salinas. The attack happened onMore >>
SALINAS, Calif. -- Police confirmed Wednesday that the 14-year old boy stabbed in the neck by two women last week has died.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 8:49 PM EDT2013-05-23 00:49:02 GMT
MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Monterey City Council voted on Tuesday night to repeal the wharf barking ban. The ban has been in effect since 1976. This move was just an approval of the first reading. When changingMore >>
MONTEREY, Calif. -- The Monterey City Council voted on Tuesday night to repeal the wharf barking ban, which is essentially restaurant employees or owners making their pitch to potential customers to drum up business.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 7:29 PM EDT2013-05-22 23:29:41 GMT
The Central Coast News Questions Center will open from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and we are taking on the issues surrounding a new generation of veterans coming home from war. Veteran's resource expertsMore >>
The Central Coast News Questions Center will open from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and we are taking on the issues surrounding a new generation of veterans coming home from war.More >>