DOWNEY - At long last, after enduring five years of frozen salaries, slashed programs of various kinds, and reduced expectations due to the financial crisis and severe state budget cuts, the whole DUSD community today has something to really cheer about. Tuesday the board passed a $177,703,023 million budget, which represents not only a confident $3.7 million increase over the fiscal year just ended but, more important, includes sufficient funds to afford a negotiated 3.25 percent across-the-board salary increase to certificated and management staff, even as it next addresses negotiations with its classified personnel.
This happy turn of events is attributed to, among other recent positive developments, the passage of Proposition 30, which increased both income taxes on high earners (those earning more than $250,000) and sales taxes (an additional 25 cents through 2016). This has allowed the state to take in more revenue than it originally budgeted, to the tune of an estimated $4.5 billion.
Applying a formula imbedded in a handful of applicable propositions, the governor's office anticipates the bulk of this money to go to public schools and community colleges.
The centerpiece of the governor's budget, according to Dr. Nancy Nien, the newly-installed assistant superintendent for business services, is the so-called Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), crafted by legislative Democrats and Gov. Brown's braintrust. Basically, LCFF will shift money to districts with high numbers of disadvantaged (e.g., low-income, etc.) students and doing away with several categorical funds and lumping them together into a "single per-pupil grant," freeing local educators to decide by themselves on how to maximize the money they get from the state as well as the appropriate programs they deem will serve their communities best.
In a significant way, this is what educators have long sought: more local control over education. Its proponents hope it sows greater autonomy in other areas.
At this point, it's too early to talk about restoration of dropped programs, said both board chairman Don LaPlante and Nien. They both await the possible last-minute changes Gov. Brown may want to make when he signs the final budget version this Sunday.
"We can be sure of one thing: we'll start looking at what programs we can bring back," said Nien.
Added LaPlante: "We're happy that the state is finally going to give us money instead of taking it away."
********** Published: June 27, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 11