How schools end up broke when states need money

School administrators tell business leaders about budget cuts (Riverside, California), part of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce Business Education Partnership.

As California governor Jerry Brown’s efforts to put tax increases on the ballot winds its way through the state’s political process, school districts continue to struggle. Teachers, administrators, and parents are trying to bring attention to the effects a faltering school system has on local communities and the state.

Budget cuts to California schools are now to the point where they’re doing irreparable harm, Riverside Unified Superintendent Rick Miller told business and education leaders Tuesday. …

The state is now talking about cutting 20 days off the school year in 2013 if voters reject tax increases heading for the November ballot. Miller said families will get used to a shorter school year of 160 days.

“Over a few years, we’ll lose a year of instruction,” Miller said.

In addition to dramatic cuts in funding over the past years, school districts are affected by the state’s ability to write checks for the money it has budgeted:

The state is supposed to send monthly payments to school districts. Fine said the state has called school districts to say that payments won’t be coming until months later, or sometimes the next fiscal year, because the state doesn’t have the cash.

School funding has dropped to about 77 or 78 cents of each dollar received in 2007, and because of the deferrals, schools and community colleges are getting only about 57 cents, with the rest promised later, Fine said.

Alvord Unified School District Superintendent Nick Ferguson said he’s never seen budgets this bad in his 44 years in education.

Although it’s state policy at stake in these discussions, it is at the local level where parents and schools manage the fallout of these cuts. School districts (usually aligned with cities, sometimes counties) are left to raise funds to cover the gaps, which only heightens the dramatic inequalities between communities.

via RIVERSIDE: Chamber hears effects of state budget crisis on schools | Breaking News | – Press-Enterprise. (4/10/12)