Some California School Districts Seek Changes to Public Education Funding

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School districts across California said they have been losing thousands of state dollars daily because of the number of students missing school with either the virus or potential symptoms.

The districts are now pleading for help, with many demanding the state change how it funds public education.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, however, is firing back by saying he has already given billions more to schools this past year.

Newsom in a recent interview with NBC Bay Area said it is now about accountability and adds it is up to school boards to determine how they are spending their extra money.

The numbers in recent weeks are looking better at schools across the state, with fewer students out sick due to COVID. But the school year has been rough.

In the Alum Rock Union School District, attendance dropped to 79 percent during its COVID peak. And with school funding largely based on attendance, that is roughly a daily loss of about a half a million dollars.

Many school districts are now asking the state to do what they did last year and reimburse them for those lost funds.

"Well the schools have never been more flush with resources in California history," Newsom said when asked about school funding in an interview with NBC Bay Area last Friday.

The governor said the state education budget grew from $79 billion two years ago to $102 billion today.

Furthermore, the state started a new universal pre-K program and increased funding for after school and summer school programs.

Newsom also said the state has invested almost $3 billion in teacher retention and recruitment.

"We've got to hold the school boards accountable," Newsom said in the interview with NBC Bay Area. "We got to hold the districts accountable, the counties more accountable, the principals more accountable -- for investing those dollars wisely."

NBC Bay Area reached out to Alum Rock Union School District Superintendent Dr. Hilaria Bauer to get her take on the governor's comments.

"The lack of understanding on how school districts work is shocking," Hilaria said.

But some relief may be coming.

In Newsom's May budget revise, the governor is proposing districts get more flexibility in how they report the average daily attendance, which the state uses to determine school funding.

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