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State budget proposal spells more funding for TUSD
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In his final budget proposal before leaving office at the end of the year, Governor Jerry Brown is providing a burst of spending for education in 2018-2019, benefitting students throughout the state and schools within the Turlock Unified School District.

Taking advantage of Proposition 98 – a voter-mandated budget formula that determines annual revenue for K-12 schools and community colleges – Brown proposed generous spending, calling for an additional $3 billion to fully implement the Local Control Funding Formula, which takes into account the needs of low-income families, families that don’t speak English at home and foster care children.

In addition to fully implementing the LCFF two years ahead of schedule, Brown also proposed to increase total funding for K-12 to $78.3 billion – an increase of $4.6 billion compared to 2017-2018. This year’s proposed budget also reflects a 66 percent increase in funding since the recession in 2011, when funding dropped to $47.3 billion.

“Governor Brown’s budget proposal provides a big boost to our public school students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “The proposal shows how far we have come as a state in the past seven years in increasing investments in education so our students can continue to succeed in college and the 21st Century economy.”

Other major components of Governor Brown’s education spending plan include $212 million to create new high school career technical education programs and $70 million to fund a new support system for low-performing school districts. Under the Governor’s proposed budget, K-12 funding per student increases from the 2017-2018 level of $11,165 to $11,628 in 2018-2019, growing by $463 per student, or 4.1 percent.

Despite that growth, California’s funding per student numbers pale in comparison to most of the country, said TUSD Chief Financial Officer Ronna Fraser.

“We can expect much discussion surrounding the fact that even at full implementation of LCFF, California is No. 41 in per-pupil funding nationally,” said Fraser, adding that California is also ranked No. 45 in its pupil-to-teacher ratio. “The question of where we go after full implementation of LCFF to close this gap will be up to our next governor, but we must do all we can to support efforts to increase funding for education.”

With full implementation of the LCFF in 2018-2019, Fraser anticipates the district to receive $133,849,012, with about $20 million of that amount based on the percentage of eligible students, like those who come from low-income families, are in foster care or speak English as a second language.

“If enrollment and (Average Daily Attendance) projections do not decline and (Cost of Living Adjustments) are funded, TUSD will continue to see an increase in funding that will cover anticipated pension increases in the foreseeable future,” said Fraser. “Although the economic outlook is good for this and the next year, we do know a mild recession will dramatically alter this.”

Conservative fiscal planning by the district is recommended, said Fraser, just in case the state runs into troubling economic times.

In order to maintain the district’s current funding levels, which are determined by the number of students enrolled and their ADA, TUSD continues to find ways to increase attendance through the district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan process – a compulsory portion of the LCFF which identifies needs unique to each school district through stakeholder feedback.

TUSD’s LCAP most recently discovered a need for the district’s new student Welfare and Attendance Specialist.

“Attending school is the first step to academic achievement,” said Fraser. “Additionally, our district makes a determined effort to identify our ‘eligible’ students to ensure additional funding is available to meet their academic needs.”