Schools Worry About Budget Shifts in Calif.

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – California schools get the short straw with a law Gov. Jerry Brown signed in June that shifts money from the general fund to local governments, according to a lawsuit from the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and three school districts.
     The organizations say California’s public safety realignment, which will release 30,000 low-level offenders from state prisons to be handled in local county jails, diverts tax revenues normally used for schools, removing $2.1 billion in funding for education than Proposition 98 requires.
     “The Legislature’s actions represent a direct attempt to evade the minimum funding requirements of Proposition 98,” the complaint states, referring to a 1988 amendment to the California Constitution that establishes a minimal level of funding for public schools and community colleges out of state tax revenue.
     Gov. Brown announced Thursday, however, that he plans to use some of that revenue to support his public safety realignment plan, admitting that education will certainly be affected unless California voters approve higher taxes.
     “Proposition 98 was designed to ensure that – at a minimum – K-14 funding would be equal to a fixed percentage of general fund revenues. In the 2011-12 budget, the state unlawfully avoided this requirement by manipulating the minimum funding guarantee and redirecting a portion of Proposition 98 funding to other purposes without adjusting the calculation to reflect the constitutional requirement,” the groups say. “If the actions taken in the 2011-12 budget are allowed to stand, the ‘guarantee’ of Proposition 98 will be eviscerated. The state’s attempt to define away its constitutional obligation for public education funding must be declared unlawful and state officials must be directed to implement Proposition 98 in accordance with the law.”
     The school districts, boards and administrators want California to recalculate the minimum funding guarantee for schools, ensuring that K-14 schools receive “no less than the constitutionally required minimum level of funding.”
     They are represented by Deborah Caplan with Olson Hagel & Fishburn of Sacramento.

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