School districts across California are implementing the state’s 2008–09 education budget during a time of extraordinary financial pressure and instability.
Although the budget that legislators finally approved in September—the most delayed in state history—avoided dramatic reductions in overall state education spending, its impact at the local level tells a much different story.
School districts did not receive a full cost-of-living adjustment () to account for rising salaries, utilities, and supplies. The state’s deepening fiscal crisis may require midyear cuts. School construction projects are in jeopardy due to the credit crisis. More school districts are asking their communities to pass parcel tax elections in order to compensate for unreliable state funds.
EdSource’s annual report on school finance explains the major features of the 2008–09 K–12 education budget and some of the complex political and economic factors behind it.It includes discussions on the following issues:
- A looming state and national fiscal catastrophe has not broken Sacramento’s long-term deadlock in the debate about increasing revenues and cutting expenses.
- Education received ‘flat funding’ in the enacted 2008–09 budget, but midyear cuts threaten essential school programs.
- This year districts face many added fiscal constraints with no additional flexibility to help make ends meet.
- The economic situation means that sound financial management is more difficult. The number of school districts that cannot meet their financial obligations rose dramatically last year and may continue to increase.
- The Legislature made only minor changes this year in education policy, in the areas of testing, accountability, and career and technical education.
- The Proposition 98 calculations that determine school funding;
- The status of the state’s unpaid debt to school districts for mandate reimbursements;
- Sources of funding for K–12 education in the 2008–09 budget;
- A list of state and federal categorical programs and their funding amounts;
- A list of additional resources to learn more about California school finance.
Note: This report is based on the 2008-09 budget enacted in September 2008.
Although in some cases it does not reflect the most current policy decisions and
funding figures, it contains information that is still useful to local education
agencies. For example, it discusses the local budget certification process and
strategies to maintain cash flow during difficult times.
To learn about the 17-month budget enacted by California policymakers in February 2009, which has made substantial changes to the original 2008-09 budget, please see Feb. 2009 Budget Action.
EdSource thanks the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for their investment in our core work.