California’s education funding is at a record high. So why are schools short on cash?

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

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Newsom: California schools hit by coronavirus budget cuts

Even as costs skyrocket in response to the coronavirus crisis, California school districts face major funding cuts that could potentially lead to teacher and staff layoffs and leave some schools struggling to safely reopen campuses in the fall, according to district officials and educators.

The proposed budget hit to schools, about $19 billion split over the next two years, worsens their existing financial challenges and does little to help with pandemic-related costs.

Responding to the revised budget unveiled Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez, president of the California School Boards Assn., acknowledged that Newsom faced difficult choices in confronting an estimated $54.3-billion state deficit that materialized just as quickly as the coronavirus.

But the share of damage borne by schools is too great, she said.

“This budget would be insufficient in ordinary times, and is less than what is required for most schools to reopen safely during a pandemic,”

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Most California schools reopening in August, September

Most public school districts in California are planning to reopen campuses on their regular start dates in late August and September — but the new normal amid the coronavirus outbreak will likely include masks, daily school sanitation and smaller class sizes to maintain six feet of distance, state Supt. of Instruction Tony Thurmond said Wednesday.

Also, some school districts will likely offer a combination of in-person and distance learning, something parents have asked for, Thurmond said.

But the new safety accommodations will require more funding, Thurmond said during a news conference Wednesday, almost a week after the governor’s May budget revise slashed about $19 billion from schools over the next two years.

“We believe that our school districts cannot reopen safely if they have to implement these kinds of cuts,” Thurmond said, echoing the governor’s plea for additional federal aid for schools. “We need to maintain all that we have

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