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CSBA and ACSA Call on Legislature to Introduce Full and Fair Funding Amendment to the California Constitution

Amendment would raise state’s per-pupil funding to the average of the top 10 states


SACRAMENTO, Calif., (July 16, 2018) –The California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) are calling for the State Legislature to introduce a Constitutional amendment that would provide for the Full and Fair Funding of California public schools.

The two statewide associations made the request in a joint letter sent to every member of the Legislature.  Signed by CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy and ACSA Executive Director Dr. Wesley Smith, the letter states that, “Before the current legislative session ends on August 31, CSBA and ACSA are asking you to help lead the fight by introducing a Constitutional amendment to move California to the top 10 states in per-pupil funding.”

The letter is the latest step in CSBA’s Full and Fair Funding campaign, which seeks to raise California’s per-pupil funding from its current position of 41st in the nation to the national average by 2020, and then to the average of the top 10 states by 2025.

Despite boasting the fifth-largest economy in the world and the highest gross domestic product of any state, California rates near the bottom nationally in nearly every important measure of school funding and school staffing. Adjusted for cost of living, California ranks 41st in per-pupil funding, 45th in the percentage of taxable income spent on education, 45th in student-teacher ratios and 48th in the number of staff per student.
“California shouldn’t rank 41st nationally in any area of significance, much less education. If we want all children to achieve at high levels — and we say that we do — then we must create conditions that are conducive to success,” said CSBA CEO & Executive Director Vernon M. Billy. “That starts by giving our schools the resources needed to prepare all students for success in college, career and civic life.”

In 1970, when California’s school system was the envy of the nation, the state ranked among the top five nationally in per-pupil funding. Years of underinvestment have eroded that position and failed to keep pace with the growing needs of the state’s 6.2 million public students. California’s student funding trails the average of the top 10 states by almost $7,000 per pupil, depriving students of critical opportunities for academic, social and emotional development and essential preparation for a workplace that is more complex and more competitive than ever before.

“Achievement gaps are defined by access and opportunity and caused by critically underfunding schools,” explained Association of California School Administrators Executive Director, Dr. Wesley Smith. “We feel the state is in a position to strengthen the education system with an equity focus that builds our next generation of leaders.”

While initiatives such as the Local Control Funding Formula have increased school funding in absolute terms, per-pupil funding levels, adjusted for inflation, only recently returned to 2007 levels and fail to cover rapidly increasing costs for benefits, healthcare, pensions, transportation and utilities. Current funding levels are also inadequate to meet the needs of a modern education with more demanding curriculum, higher standards and elevated requirements in areas like science, technology, engineering and math, special education, career technical education and the arts.
“Our legislators were elected to provide for the well-being of this state, and there is no better contribution toward that goal than an investment in public schools – which is an investment in the people who make this state great,” Billy said. “If we don’t reprioritize public schools, we put the vitality of our communities, the prosperity of our state, and our children at risk.”

CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.