School districts throughout the state of California continue to feel the impact of millions of dollars in funding cuts over the past five years, and additional cuts are expected for the next two years.
Five years ago, when the first round of funding cuts were made, districts knew that based upon projections, the "floor would fall out" on school districts in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years if the state did not restore and stabilize education funding. There is no other segment of state funding cuts that has been so deep or sustained for so long as the cuts made to public education. On a per-student basis, education funding in California is among the lowest in the nation.
Six local school districts — the Huntington Beach City School District, Ocean View School District, Fountain Valley School District, Westminster School District, Huntington Beach Union High School District and Coast Community College District — have been working through the budget shortfall since the 2007-08 school year. For the 2012-13 school year, these districts are facing unprecedented funding cuts which will result in deeper impacts to programs. The attached table shows the funding cuts over the past five years and the expected cuts in the next two years.
Out of the 28 school districts in Orange County, 13 districts have received a qualified certification. A qualified certification means that a district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal year or two subsequent fiscal years. So who is accountable? The legislature in Sacramento continues to spend money it does not have. Whether or not the current propositions pass, your local school districts will still need to make cuts to their programs. Holding education hostage to get more funding for the State General Fund is not the answer.
Despite the five continuous years of funding cuts, the six local school districts have maintained their strong commitment to student achievement and to providing students with the best opportunities for a successful education. Parents and the community see students continue to receive a quality education and may not realize the tremendous impact of the budget shortfalls. Although districts have made it a priority to keep cuts away from the classroom, five continual years of severe cuts have taken its toll.
This has resulted in layoffs for teachers and classified staff, increased class sizes, a shortened school year with fewer instructional days, a smaller number of classes being offered to college students, elimination of transportation and many other reductions. Education funding has surpassed its contribution to the state in resolving its fiscal crisis. In California, we are in serious danger of crippling our society and workforce for decades to come.
This letter was written by the following school board presidents as individuals. They are not representing their school boards or school districts.
Fountain Valley School District
Westminster School District
Coast Community College District
Huntington Beach Union High School District
Ocean View School District
Huntington Beach City School District