The State of California Public Schools

Are California’s 9,903 schools better off financially now than they were five years ago?

As the largest recipient of cuts  — something on the order of $14 billion —  in the efforts to close the state’s annual mutli-billion dollar budget shortfalls it seems likely the Golden State’s 1,042 school districts would be a lot less golden now than in 2007.

But how much less golden?

The Legislative Analyst’s Office offers some answers in a report released February 6 titled The 2012–13 Budget: Proposition 98 Education Analysis.

Among their findings:

Per–pupil funding is lower than five years ago.  Per–pupil funding in the current budget year is $7,583. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2008, it was $8,235. Under Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, per–pupil funding would drop further, the analyst says. Between a 1.1 percent and 6 percent drop depending on whether voters approve a ballot measure in November backed by the Democratic governor to temporarily increase the sales tax by .5 percent and up the income tax rates for the state’s wealthiest earners. A 6 percent drop would mean per–pupil funding would be more than $1,100 lower than five years ago.

There are 34,000 less teachers now than five years ago. Fulltime teachers have fallen from 306,000 to 272,000, an 11 percent reduction. As a result:

The student/teacher ratio has climbed from 19.4 to 21.9.

There are less instructional days. Five years ago, nearly all districts provided 180 instructional days. Now, nearly 350 districts — one–third — offer less than 180.

“In addition, many school districts have redirected funds away from specialized programs and support services to general operations,” the analyst says. “Many school districts report shifting funds away from “flexed” categorical programs including professional development, summer school, adult education, art and music programs, facility maintenance, school libraries and high school class size reduction.”

For the teachers who remain, however, the analyst says the average salary has increased over five years from $65,800 to $67,900.


Filed under: Budget and Economy


  1. And, gee, how about examining some of the bonehead expenditures on the administrative end of things — an undeniable administrative-heavy system made up of individuals who often have nary a clue of how to run an education system, and often don’t really even care. That, coupled with the ludicrous. expensive and unnecessary memberships in the CSBA makes for very questionable leadership in one of the most important areas of California life — our schools and the future of our kids.

    Comment by Sambolina — 2.07.2012 @ 8:51 am

  2. This from Brown’s Department of Finance:
    “The (analyst) has a higher per-pupil number in the 2011-12 fiscal year than (we do) and a lower one in 2012-13. They have $7,583 and $7,496 vs (our) $7,163 and $7,883 for the two years.
    “The reason for the difference is that they are trying to show a “programmatic” view of how much money is available for schools to spend. They include a guess at the amount of federal Jobs Bill funding left over in 2011-12 and they add back the $2 billion in payments deferred from 2011-12 to 2012-13. Then, for 2012-13, they do not include the $2.4 billion the administration is proposing to use to pay down deferrals in that year. (Our) per pupil numbers do not include federal funds and include the actual amounts appropriated for that year.”

    Comment by Greg Lucas — 2.07.2012 @ 5:09 pm

  3. In assessing the analyst’s statistics showing a slight rise in teacher salaries over five years, a subscriber says this:
    “It’s very misleading to talk about ‘increased teacher salaries.’ Let’s say you have 10 teachers: Two made $50,000, three make $55,000, three $60,000 and two at $65,000. The average salary is
    $57,500. If you fire the two lowest paid teachers — who would be the ones with the least seniority and therefore most likely to be laid off — and nobody gets a pay raise the ‘average’ teacher
    salary is now $59,375.”

    Comment by Greg Lucas — 2.07.2012 @ 5:16 pm

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