Budget deal deals schools a budget blow

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The budget deal the governor and state lawmakers hammered out spreads a lot of pain around California. KPCC's Nick Roman says the state’s public schools, from kindergarten to college, will feel their share.

Nick Roman: Jack O’Connell, California’s superintendent of public instruction, was expecting bad news in the budget deal. That’s pretty much all California public schools have heard this year. O’Connell told KPCC’s Larry Mantle to start with the $4.3 billion in cuts contained in this latest budget deal.

Jack O’Connell: And another $1.7 billion on top of that in deferrals and all of that on top of $12 billion in cuts from last February and also in higher education, we are looking at about a $3 billion reduction. So it’s about what we had expected. I’m disappointed, personally. We are just not making the investment in public education that needs to be made.

Roman: O’Connell will underscore that point in about six weeks. That’s when the state releases the latest Academic Performance Index scores for every public school in California. The statewide API score for all schools usually goes up, but not by much.

State schools chief Jack O’Connell usually points out that the “achievement gap” – the difference between average scores for white and Asian students and those for Latino and black students – doesn’t change much year after year. Now schools have to figure out how to push scores up and the achievement gap down with fewer teachers and bigger classes.

O’Connell: The teachers that received layoff notices will not be returning. Those layoff notices or pink slips will not be rescinded. We are going to see the largest class sizes we’ve ever seen. California has already, grades 4 through 12, had the largest class sizes in the country.

Roman: The news about a budget deal came down one day before the trustees at the 23-campus California State University met in Long Beach. The state cut a combined $3 billion from CSU and the University of California in the budget deal. That’s one reason the CSU trustees approved a 20 percent fee hike for students. A year at a CSU campus now costs an undergraduate more than $4,800. Lou Monville is a CSU trustee.

Lou Monville: Obviously it’s a very, very tough decision for me and my colleagues, not one that anyone takes lightly or anyone enjoys the tough decisions we have to make. But the reality of it is that when the state is cutting your funding to a level $600 million less than we had a decade ago, and we’re serving at the same time 100,000 more students than we had a decade ago. They’re obviously drastic times.

Roman: Lou Monville is a CSU product. He graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a degree in communications. He now he helps run a big public relations firm. Those PR skills help explain why his comment about less funding for more students matches word-for-word what the CSU says on its Web page about the budget crisis.

The CSU also says 85 percent of its money covers the salaries and benefits of professors, lecturers, clerical staff, janitors – everyone who works at the 23 campuses. Two of the university’s biggest employee unions are voting now on whether to accept two unpaid days off a month for the entire fiscal year.