How does Jerry Brown's proposed California budget affect schools?

California Budget

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the cuts he has already made to help reduce the state's budget deficit from nearly $20 billion last year to a gap of about $9.2 billion as he unveiled his proposed $92.5 billion 2012-13 state budget at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. California faces a smaller budget deficit in the coming fiscal year but will require nearly $5 billion in cuts to public education if voters reject Brown's plan to raise taxes in the fall.

The budget Gov. Jerry Brown released Thursday proposes education cuts and changes large and small.

One of the reforms targets California’s complicated schools funding formula.

Gov. Brown called that formula “too complex, administratively costly, and inequitable.”

It starts simply. "The way the system works right now, a school district gets a base or foundation amount of money per pupil," said Mary Perry of the think tank Ed Source.

Perry says dozens of categorical funding pots that pay for class size reduction, college prep training and the like don’t make much sense — even when their intentions are good.

Take the college prep program, Advancement Via Individual Determination. Hacienda Heights English teacher Ann Hanson says it’s turned around students like a recent foster child who learned what it takes to get into college.

"Where she was failing classes her freshman year," Hanson said, "by her senior year she was in AP classes, she passed a few AP tests and was admitted to Biola University and had everything paid for."

The governor would create a simpler “weighted pupil” funding formula. Perry of EdSource says she’s wanted this change for years.

"We’re going to look at the kids you’re serving," Perry said, "we’re going to give you an amount of money per kid and we’re going to give you more money if you’re serving kids who are more difficult to educate."

Such as those whose first language isn’t English.

Gov. Brown says a state tax increase he’s proposed for the November ballot would generate about $5 billion for public schools. The measure’s failure would generate a nearly $5 billion cut to schools. It would jettison transitional kindergarten for 4-year-olds planned for the fall.

La Puente kindergarten teacher Shawna Adam protests that younger kindergarteners need a program that suits their needs.

"Our classes are held from 8:15 to 2:06," Adam said, "my 4-year-olds end up falling asleep on the floor, and some of them have socially unacceptable behavior like hitting and punching and they are just not ready yet for a full day kindergarten program."

The governor’s proposal goes to the Legislature next, and a revise in May will address any changes in the state’s economic outlook.

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