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Move afoot to stop deferral of ed dollars

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POSTED February 20, 2013 2:01 a.m.

California Assembly members Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) have introduced an Assembly Constitutional Amendment aimed at stopping the practice of deferring education dollars to pay for other programs and to balance the state budget.

Olsen and Nestande are stomping up and down the state to drum up support for the bill. Olsen went before the Manteca Unified Board of Education at their last meeting seeking the passage of a resolution from the trustees toward that end. But instead of taking action and approving the proposed resolution that was presented to them, the board opted to have the item on the March agenda for further discussion.

Olsen represents Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, and all of Stanislaus County.

“I’d like to wait until March to let more people know about it,” board member Don Scholl  commented.

Olsen and Nestande both believe that education should be the state budget’s top priority. Instead, Olsen pointed out that one-fifth of the state’s budget, or approximately 10 billion dollars is now being deferred annually, with a lot of those funds not going to the schools until the end or after the end of the school year. As a result, schools are hardly surviving. Some districts are using their borrowing power to cover the funding shortfalls, Olson said. In Stanislaus County alone, she said eight districts are at risk and are not going to meet their financial obligations for the next two years. Other districts can’t borrow anymore, she said.

She complimented the Manteca Unified District officials for not being in that same tight fiscal situation. Nonetheless, the district was not immune from the deferrals. Of the district’s $180 million budget in the current fiscal year (2012-13 school year), $36 million was deferred funds.

“You are one fantastic board,” Olsen told the school district officials, because they did not have to resort to borrowing to balance the budget.

“We need to stop this cycle. We got to work together,” Olsen said of the state’s continuing practice of deferring education dollars to balance the budget every year.

“Deferrals are driving some school district into bankruptcy. State funding for education has decreased, while funding for welfare has increased. Budgeting is about priorities, this will allow the legislature to look at real numbers and make realistic budget decisions instead of kicking the can down the road,” commented Nestande on his web site.

“This measure will force the legislature and governor to account for state funding shortfalls in an open and transparent way so that school officials, parents and students have a clear picture of the level of funding their schools will be receiving. Education should be the top priority in the state budget. If cuts are made to education, they should be made openly and not masked by accounting mechanisms,” he further stated.

Individuals and organizations who would like to know more about the proposed Constitutional Amendment to end education deferrals in California can call (916) 319-2042.

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