Education researchers begin to piece together effects of California budget cuts

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Education researchers are beginning to piece together the effects of the state’s fiscal crisis on schools.

One study out today examines money that goes mainly to low-performing schools.

The state’s complicated public schools financing system includes dozens of funding streams called categorical. That small portion of the overall education budget goes to pay for textbooks, tutoring for the exit exam, and teacher training – mostly at schools with low test scores.

As the state’s funding crisis hit hard a year ago, school administrators successfully lobbied Sacramento lawmakers to cut the strings attached to some categoricals.

San Diego State University researcher Jennifer Imazeki says that deregulation was a big deal. "They could sweep it into the general fund, they could use it for general teacher salaries, they could use it for whatever they deemed most important. They did not have to use it for the purposes that the original program said they had to use it for."

Imazeki says an upcoming study will examine how school administrators spent the deregulated categorical funds. She hopes the research will shed some light on the state’s $8 billion cut to public education in the last five years.