Challenging Times: California Schools Cope with Adversity and the Imperative To Do More
California school districts are being expected to "do more with less." They face critical and competing pressures to improve academic achievement while remaining fiscally solvent in a time of increasing budgetary pressures.
This report examines the financial circumstances of California's school districts and the actions they have been taking to cope with these competing demands. It looks at the various forces that govern both the revenues they receive and the expenditures they make, and the added pressures they face due to the insolvency of California's state budget and the fact that the 2010-11 budget was the latest in the state's history.
The report also discusses new federal and state initiatives designed to improve student outcomes as well as policy actions that may add to districts' workload.
Note: As a result of the late budget, EdSource's usual summary of the current year budget for K–12 education is not included in this report. See School Finance Highlights 2010-11 for a more detailed descriptions of those decisions.
Inside this report:
- California's school districts face competing priorities
- The state has delayed large payments to local school agencies
- Districts have limited options for coping with reduced funds
- Districts are making cutbacks but having mixed success in keeping them "away from the classroom"
- Federal stimulus dollars have helped, but many districts still face severe funding difficulties
- Obama administration programs represent seed money for reforms it hopes will be game-changing
- Policymakers' actions will add to districts' workload
- "Doing more with less" is a daunting challenge for California schools
EdSource thanks Joyce and Larry Stupski for supporting the development and dissemination of this report.