News Column

Education Leaders Jointly Oppose Trailer Bill Mandates on Reserve Funding

June 11, 2014



SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 11 -- The California School Boards Association issued the following news release:

The state's top educational management organizations, including ACSA, CASBO, CCSESA, CSBA, San Diego Unified School District, Fresno Unified School District, Los Angeles County Office of Education, Clovis Unified School District, Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Ontario-Montclair School District, California Association of Suburban Schools, Sacramento City Unified School District, the California School Finance Reform Coalition and School Services of California are jointly expressing their strong opposition to proposed trailer bill language pertaining to the levels of budget reserves school districts are currently maintaining.

The trailer bill imposes several requirements on school districts adopting a budget with a reserve greater than the minimum required for economic uncertainties and an absolute cap on reserves the first fiscal year funds are placed into the Public Sector Stabilization Account. If approved, the requirements would go into effect beginning in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-16.

This proposal is fiscally irresponsible, inconsistent with the principal of subsidiarity, which serves as the foundation of the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and discounts the critical role that prudent budget reserves play in the ability of school districts to maintain fiscal solvency. In addition, it fails to recognize numerous factors going into district decisions on reserve levels, while ignoring recent history with regard to how districts used budget reserves during the great recession to avoid even greater cuts to educational programs, and certificated and classified staff reductions.

The language in this bill forces districts to spend reserves above a three percent minimum, or prove to lawmakers why prudent fiscal solvency matters in their districts.

This proposal is counterproductive to the concept of subsidiarity, a core principle of the LCFF. Education funding decisions are determined locally, not at the state level. By adopting this language, lawmakers are taking funds and control from school districts, thereby impacting programs and staff. In essence, lawmakers are playing with money earmarked to teach students.

We recommend lawmakers remove this trailer bill language from any and all decisions being made inside the State Capitol. We want to be good partners in establishing a system that works for all the parties. The existence of this language is counterproductive to the locally-controlled reforms just put into place less than a year ago.

[Category: Education]

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