Budget hearings continue in the Legislature as the 2022 budget cycle moves forward. For schools, a recommitment to the Local Control Funding Formula) through an increase in LCFF base funding beyond the statutorily required cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) is paramount and will continue to be a major focus for CSBA’s budget advocacy this year.
The Budget Act of 2021 made significant investments in many worthy goals, but the overwhelming majority of funds were tied up in categorical programs with eligibility restrictions or in competitive grant programs that many districts do not have the capacity or resources to access or sustain. And while the 5.33 percent statutory COLA proposed in the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s January budget is appreciated, it is insufficient to meet the needs of local educational agencies as inflation and fixed costs continue to rise and schools are stretched thin to keep the lights on, retain and attract staff, and keep day-to-day operations running.
As negotiations develop, CSBA is pushing for the Governor and Legislature to focus on increasing funding for the LCFF base beyond COLA so local districts and county offices of education can allocate those funds in ways that best meet the needs of their specific students and communities. As local governance leaders communicate with their state representatives, here are a few key talking points to stress:
- Recommitment to the LCFF is vital for the day-to-day operation of schools.
- The rising costs of inflation, declining enrollment, pension rate increases, school unemployment fund rate increases, staffing challenges and other cost pressures are leading schools statewide towards troubling fiscal times.
- Despite the perception that education received a great deal of new revenue in the last budget, the vast majority of funds were tied up in new categorical or competitive grant programs — many of which are one-time funding.
- Schools simply cannot do more with new programs if they are already stretched thin conducting basic day-to-day operations.
- The Legislature and Governor should invest heavily in the LCFF base to ensure that schools can meet rising costs, remain competitive in attracting and retaining high-quality personnel, and, most importantly, help improve student academic outcomes and provide for their well-being.