Monday, January 18, 2010

Providing Greater Local Funding to California Public Schools: The Local Control of Local Classrooms Funding Act


California ranks near the bottom of all states in spending per student when accounting for regional cost differences. Over the past two years, Sacramento has cut billions in school funding resulting in more crowded classrooms, teacher layoffs and fewer programs for students. More cuts are likely this year, despite assurances by the Governor that his budget protects public education.

Local communities, however, can enact ballot measures that provide stable, reliable funds for their schools. These measures, called parcel taxes, provide funds which cannot be taken away by Sacramento. Yet, passing such measures is often difficult and has proven impossible in some communities.

The reason why is that the California Constitution requires 2/3 support for school parcel taxes. A minority of voters - just 33% plus 1 voter - can defeat the will of a community to support its public schools.

A new initiative - called the Local Control of Local Classrooms Funding Act - would change this by lowering the vote to adopt school parcel taxes to 55% of the voters.
Reducing the passage of school parcel taxes from 66.7% to 55% support over time will generate hundreds of millions of dollars for our schools. For example, in San Leandro where I live, a 2006 parcel tax measure would have passed if the Local Control of Local Classrooms Funding Act had been enacted. The measure received 61% support and would have generated $2.3 million annually for San Leandro schools.

Signatures are now being gathered for the initiative. This is our opportunity to stand up for our children and reduce the dependency of our schools on Sacramento for their financing. The initiative also assists our community colleges by lowering the voting threshold for passage of parcel taxes for community college districts from 2/3 to 55 percent.

Please help qualify the Local Control of Local Classrooms Act for the November 2010 ballot. Each of us can gather signatures to help qualify the initiative. Learn how at http://www.improvedschoolfunding.com

For those on Facebook, please also join the group Californians In Support of Greater Local Funding For Our Public Schools.

Please also forward this blog entry to family, friends and fellow educators across California. Together, we can change our state constitution and provide greater resources for each student to succeed.