Prior to 1978 and Prop 13, school districts were largely dependent upon property taxes, which furnished about 2/3 of public education revenues. Around the same time Prop 13 became law, the Serrano vs. Priest lawsuit challenged the fairness of the funding inequities that resulted from widely disparate property values and tax bases. The combined effect of Prop 13 and Serrano was to shift public school support from local property taxes to State general funds, thereby shifting the control from local authority to the State.
Each year the State legislature determines how much money each school district will receive as a base amount for each student enrolled. Additional funds are typically granted to districts in the form of Categorical Spending, or funds designated for specific programs tied to district demographic factors, socioeconomic or otherwise. The Las Virgenes Unified School District does not qualify for many of these programs, and therefore receives a lower amount than most Districts. You can learn more about California school funding at www.californiaschoolfinance.org.
The State of California currently funds Las Virgenes Unified only $6,828 per student and our Federal and Local Funds account for an additional $1,273, for a total of $8,101 per student annual funding. California has fallen in per pupil funding to rank 46th amongst the 50 states, and might actually end up in last place over the next few years!
The current cost per student at LVUSD is $8,569, which leaves an unfunded balance of $468 per student. LVUSD has become a district operating at a deficit.
Although the District's operating costs rise each year (even before addressing staff salaries), the State does not always implement a cost of living adjustment to that per student base amount. So when costs such as utilities or health benefits rise, the District has to find the money to fund the increased costs.
Since most of the District budget is salary, the only way to balance the LVUSD budget is to raise funds from other sources or to eliminate positions. Thus, the District cannot depend on the State alone to fully fund its budget. PFAs and PFCs can pay for things (e.g. technology, art and Physical Education) while Education Foundations can pay for credentialed teachers and counselors. Together, we can make a comprehensive difference and narrow the w-i-d-e-n-i-n-g gap created by the State!
The uncomfortable truths are these:
- Since 2006, LVUSD’s budget has been cut by $10 million
- Plus the recent additional loss of $535,000 in mid-year cuts for the 2011-12 year
- Plus a minimum of $785,000 in 2012-13
- That adds up to over $11,000,000 fewer dollars to LVUSD in just 5 years
- On top of that, we are facing the potential of an additional $4 million in cuts for 2012-13, if anticipated revenue does not materialize at the State level.
Diminished government support for public education in America has forced communities to form education foundations to raise funds to support the public schools in their cities. Several of these organizations can be found in neighboring communities who have built thriving education foundations over the past 30 years. We encourage you to visit their websites to see how compelling and successful these foundations have become – all directly supporting their districts and protecting the reputation of their communities as a destination for excellence in public education: La Canada, Palos Verdes, Santa Monica/Malibu and Manhattan Beach…just to name a few.
While free public education is possible, it no longer meets the standards that we have come to expect from the LVUSD. We want a GREAT public education for our kids, and that, unfortunately, is not free...