Board members unite to protect education funding
Legislative Action Week also focused on bills including a statewide facilities bond and support for small school districts in accessing facilities funding
More than 300 board members from school districts and county offices of education across California met virtually with their representatives in the Assembly and Senate for CSBA’s Legislative Action Week from March 12-14. Participants advocated to protect Proposition 98 funding in the 2024–25 state budget and to support legislation including reporting requirements, small district facilities assistance and a school facilities bond on the November 2024 ballot.

“Legislative Action Week gives trustees a chance to spend dedicated time with their state legislators to advocate for a state budget that supports students and doesn’t place the state’s budget deficit on the backs of educators and students,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “The collective voice of school and county board members will be critical if schools are going to be protected from deep budget cuts.”

Protect Prop 98 and existing programs
Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a new Prop 98 funding maneuver to borrow against future-year state general fund revenues, which would be repaid over a five-year period beginning in 2025–26. Essentially, this means the state is loaning Prop 98 $8 billion with general fund money. However, because this is a loan, it would lower the Prop 98 Guarantee by an equivalent amount going forward.
pink piggy bank on top of a purple notebook
If adopted, the maneuver could set a worrisome precedent, allowing the state the ability to use it again should it face similar fiscal challenges in the future. There are already mechanisms enshrined in the State Constitution and statute about what the state can do when funding Prop 98. CSBA Governmental Relations Chief Patrick O’Donnell said the Legislature should explore the tools it already has at its disposal before considering additional mechanisms that could compromise the integrity of Prop 98.

“It undermines the principle that the guarantee is the floor, not the ceiling,” said O’Donnell. “We are urging the Legislature to exercise great caution when exploring funding maneuvers in lieu of the Proposition 98 Guarantee.”

In addition to protecting Prop 98, trustees advocated that the Legislature remain focused on ensuring successful implementation of the large programs undertaken in recent years such as universal transitional kindergarten, home-to-school transportation funding and universal school meals.

“Protecting the integrity of Prop 98 and remaining focused on existing programs is most relevant to us at this time,” said Diana Craighead, Long Beach Unified School District board president. “LBUSD has invested heavily in our TK program and now offers it at 52 of our school sites. Also, we have seen the benefit of being able to provide universal meals. This is an equity issue; no more segregated lunch lines. There’s a stigma attached to being on the free/reduced lunch program that doesn’t exist when meals are provided for everyone. We need to nourish their bodies before we can feed their minds.”

CSBA-sponsored legislation
Trustees also advocated for CSBA-sponsored bills: Senate Bill 1315 (Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera), Assembly Bill 2831 (Hoover, R-Folsom), AB 247 (Maratsuchi, D-Torrance/M. Fong, D-Alhambra) and SB 28 (Glazer, D-Orinda).

SB 1315 would require the California Department of Education (CDE) to produce a report on the number of all reports required of local educational agencies. Specifically, this measure would require the CDE to report the following:

  • The number and type of reports LEAs are required to annually submit.
  • The purpose of each report and recommendations on which reports can be consolidated to reduce the number of reports LEAs are required to submit.
  • An assessment of the administrative costs to LEAs to produce the reports based upon voluntary input from varying types of LEAs.

Assessing the number, type and scope of reports will help to identify where information could be condensed and where some reports could be eliminated — freeing up more time to provide increased support for California’s students. Additionally, this bill would help state lawmakers realize which reports are most helpful for policy development.

AB 2831 would help small school districts meet the needs of their students, staff and boards of education by establishing an Office of Small School District Facilities and Construction within the CDE. Small school districts are generally defined as those with an average daily attendance of 2,500 or less and equate to nearly 60 percent of the districts in California. A vast majority of the state’s small school districts are in rural areas and have one schoolsite that serves all preK-12 students.

Establishing an Office of Small School District Facilities and Construction at the state level will provide small school districts with the critical support and technical assistance they need to access school facilities funding to provide a safe and productive learning environment. The bill would require, upon request of a small school district, the office to provide assistance in the evaluation and utilization of existing school facilities and the justification of the needs of schoolsites, new facilities and the rehabilitation or replacement of existing facilities, in accordance with board regulations. It would also require this assistance to include annually informing small school districts of the availability of state school facilities funding for which they may qualify and responding to requests for assistance in identifying and determining state requirements to become eligible and apply for state facilities funding.

Placement of a school bond on the ballot
The Legislature is currently considering two measures to place a public school facilities bond on the November 2024 ballot — AB 247 and SB 28. It has been many years since the state adopted a public school facilities bond, leaving many districts with little to no school facilities funding and aging infrastructure that needs to be addressed. The bills would both place a general obligation bond on the November 2024 ballot — AB 247 would provide $14 billion to construct and modernize education facilities in TK-12 schools and SB 28 would provide $100 billion for TK-12 and community colleges.

Following decades of underfunding school infrastructure, national spending for K-12 school buildings falls short by an estimated $85 billion annually, according to a 2021 analysis from the 21st Century School Fund, which estimated that it would cost $1.1 trillion to modernize and replace obsolete school buildings and systems over the next decade. According to a 2020 report from the Public Policy Institute of California, 38 percent of students statewide go to schools that do not meet the minimum facility standards.