There may be no greater paradox in California government these days than the fiscal health of the state’s public schools. Education funding is almost certain to hit a record high when a new state budget is enacted next month, and yet local school districts are hitting the panic button when it comes to their finances.
That both things are true is a function of the complicated way the state funds education and the cost pressures that appear to be the new normal — especially worrisome because there’s compelling evidence that the status quo is unsustainable.
“There’s not a district in the state that’s not experiencing this,” said Kevin Gordon, a longtime education lobbyist. “It’s just so counterintuitive in a growing economy.”
It’s important to first understand how schools are funded. Most districts receive a combination of local, state and federal dollars. California, more than other states, relies on statewide tax