by Assemblyman Phil Ting
I was proud to send my kids back to school this year knowing of the investments in K-12 education the California legislature made in our most recent state budget. The state budget is the most powerful tool California has to help build strong communities, and it all begins with educating and empowering our children with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
As chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, one of my biggest priorities is improving education outcomes for our students. The budget plan we adopted this year provides record funding for K-12 education.
Due to revenue increases approved by California voters and prudent budgeting by lawmakers, we have been able to boost education spending by $30 billion since the Great Recession. We are now investing $11,639 per K-12 student, an increase of more than $1,000 per student compared to two years ago!
Funding levels at every school district across the state are, at a minimum, restored to pre-recession funding levels with adjustments for inflation.
Overall, $61 billion will flow directly to school districts and county offices of education this year under the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF directs more resources to school districts with concentrations of high-needs students – those learning English, receiving free or reduced price lunches or receiving foster care services.
The SF Unified School District (SFUSD), which has a large concentration of high-needs students, will receive $549 million in state monies under the LCFF this year. The LCFF also gives school districts flexibility to fund education solutions crafted for local student needs.
Each year, SFUSD must work with parents to set student achievement measures and show how these goals are being met through a Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which documents actions taken and funds spent. I have long fought to bring greater transparency to the LCAP process so it can be a more meaningful tool for parents.
While there is still more work to do, I am pleased that this year’s budget takes steps to improve LCAPs; they must now include standard expenditure tables so data can be compared across districts, utilize understandable language and be posted online.
This year’s budget also makes other gains to bolster educational opportunities for all students, including $300 million to help close the achievement gap amongst low-performing students, $150 million for Career Technical Education programs, $125 million for grants to address the shortage of special education teachers and $15 million for after-school programs in computer coding.
Closer to home, I am pleased to announce that $4 million in funding was specifically appropriated this year in our state budget for SFUSD to improve infrastructure at A.P. Giannini Middle School. My staff toured the school after we heard from the community that it was the campus in most need of investment. The school building is plagued with dry rot and students playing outside trip on uneven blacktop.
Through state investments like these and bond monies from local measures, our school district is determined to make every school campus a safe place for our city’s children to learn.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District.