California state budget battle could cause shorter school year
Governor Jerry Brown's failure to reach a budget deal has alarm bells ringing in school districts across California. If the governor doubles down on cuts already made some districts could shut down, others like San Diego Unified, will shorten their school year if they open at all this fall.
KUSI's Steve Bosh has been following Gov. Brown's budget battle and reports on the latest details.
Absent a budget deal, on time, school districts will have to face the unthinkable. A worst case scenario they never thought they would have to face because education funding is protected. Turns out it may not be.
School Board President Richard Barrera is up to his neck in red ink. He's cut everything in sight, including teachers, to prepare for a 120-million dollar deficit that could now jump to 200-million.
If there's no state budget soon, in addition to the ballooning deficit the school system might not be able to even open its doors this fall, and even if they do open who knows when they will slam shut.
There's talk again of suspending Prop-98, school funding, to give school's less money than the law requires.
The politicians did it last year, they may do it again this year.
“The state of California owes public schools about 13-billion dollars from failing to meet Prop-98 requirements. For our district that's over 200-million dollars per year that the state currently owes us,” said Barrera.
Even if San Diego Unified manages to make it thru this upcoming school year, others might fail.
“There are about a thousand school districts in the state and currently there are a good 150 on a watch list that could simply go bankrupt before the school year begins,” said Barrera.
Barrera says the governor, and the legislators were elected to do a job, and its up to us to hold them accountable to do that job.
“We as citizens have to demand that they do their job because if they don't do their job kids are shut out of their education,” said Barrera.
The Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento each have their special interests. Everybody understands the politics of all this Barrera says we need to think of everyone else's interests.
School districts operate on borrowing, knowing state funding is on the way to pay the debt. If you don't know when, or if the money is coming, you can't borrow, and that is what's threatening the opening of school this fall.