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July 16, 2013 > Sacramento trip delivers message to legislators

Sacramento trip delivers message to legislators

The 2013 bus trip to Sacramento on May 29, 2013, was true to its mission. We delivered our message to the Legislature before the state budget was approved on June 15.

The trip, which took 120 students, teachers and community leaders to meet with legislators, was also unique. For the first time, we focused on the way the legislators would restore money to schools rather than pleading with them not to cut funding. It was nice seeing the payoff after a dozen of these trips!

The discussion focused on Governor Jerry Brown's key reforms - simplify the formula for funding, make it more equal and just among school districts and shift some control from the state to the counties and districts. When we arrived at the State Capitol, the governor, Assembly members and state senators were working on a compromise.

Gathered in a large meeting room, members of our group posed questions to determine how our elected representatives stood on the provisions of education spending reform. And we let them know our opinions and concerns.

\We heard from Senator Jim Beall; Jeff Barbosa, staff member for Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski; Trevor Taylor for Senator Bill Monning; Rebecca Baumann for Senator Loni Hancock; Brian Syng for Assemblymember Paul Fong; Samantha Sung for Assemblymember Nora Campos; Susanne Reed for Senator Carol Liu; Ellen Hou for Assemblymember Rich Gordon; Patrick Welch for Senator Jerry Hill; Ariana Smith for Assemblymember Mark Stone; and Mabi Castro for Senator Ben Hueso.

Our message to them, in brief:
* Don't delay in getting the money to our schools.
* Even out the base amount in the formula that funds schools.
* Allocate more for school districts that have a large percentage of students who are low-income, English learners and foster youth.
* We support the transfer of local control to counties and school districts. But make sure there is accountability at the local level.

The compromise measure worked out through legislative committees came close to what we asked for.
* Don't Delay. While full implementation will take eight years, funds will start flowing to schools this year.
* Even Out the Base. The new formula raises the amount each student will receive by an average of $537, or $7,640 per student.
* More for High-Needs Districts. High-needs students - low income, English learners and foster children - will get $1,470 extra in all districts. Districts with 55 percent of high-needs students will get an extra $1,360 more for each of those students.
* Local Control Funding Formula. Instead of schools having to spend money in categories created by the state, counties and school districts will have more control over how their funding should be spent to educate their students. Also, districts will need to document for the state that the money is being spent properly.

For more information about education funding or the annual bus trip to Sacramento, please call my office at (408) 299-5030 or email me at dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org.

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