A coalition of school districts and education groups, including the California School Board Association (CSBA), the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), Los Angeles, San Francisco and Turlock School Districts, sued the state of California on September 28, 2011, seeking the restoration of $2.1 billion in funding they say public schools are owed under Proposition 98.
Proposition 98’s provides a guarantee for public schools that uses complex formulas that determine the minimum school funding. Proposition 98, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1988, contains provisions that permit temporary diversions of state revenues from schools during times of fiscal crisis. But the law clearly requires the state to repay the money.
Before signing the 2011-2012 state budget, California Governor Brown and the Legislature decided to bypass Prop 98’s constitutional guarantee for education funding by diverting the money owed to California schools and schoolchildren toward other budget items. Because there is no concrete obligation to backfill this shortfall in education funding, school leaders are taking matters into their own hands.
According to the Martha Fluor, CSBA President, the $2.1 billion owed schools amounts to $10,000 for every classroom in the state—money, she said, that could go toward restoring vital programs like sports, the arts, summer school, library services and after-school tutoring.
Dr. Sonny Da Marto, superintendent of Turlock Unified School District (TUSD), agreed.
“The voters approved Proposition 98 to protect schools and students. Our local schools have suffered more than $10 million in cuts in the last several years alone. We joined this lawsuit to ensure our schools and students are provided the funding they’re owed according to the Constitution.”
The lawsuit is still making its way through the court system.