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State funds for schools shrinking
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Last school year Manteca Unified received an additional $13 million in state funding based on the local control funding formula.
This year? They’re only receiving $7 million more than their base revenue – with considerably more costs to operate the district thanks to a variety of factors.
And with the amount of LCFF funds expected to decline even further by the 2019/20 school year, the Manteca Unified Board of Education is hoping that by joining forces with other school districts across the State of California facing similar circumstances they can get the California legislature – and potentially the next governor who will take over when Jerry Brown terms out next November – to take a look at options.
On Tuesday, the board directed Superintendent Jason Messer to write a letter to local California legislators and the Governor’s office asking the state to boost the LCFF base grant and honor the state Constitution by establishing an aspirational funding target that will move California public education funding into the top ten states.
According to Messer, California has fallen to 46th in the country in terms of the amount of money that the state spends on each pupil – something that the California School Funding Coalition, of which Manteca Unified will now be a part, is hoping will change.
And it’s something that according to Messer is uniting the entire educational community throughout the State of California.
“Local control divides the funding over 1,000 school districts across the state, and it fractures public education,” Messer said. “I can’t name a time when public education has come together to support something like this – if this is successful, it could end up saving some districts that are facing insolvency without it, and will hopefully help keep us going for another day or another month or another year. It’s important.”
Part of the issue, according to a presentation from Manteca Unified Chief Business Officer Jacqui Breitenbucher, is the fact that current LCFF statutes are silent on how money generated from Proposition 98 – a 1988 law that requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on education – will be allocated upon reaching the current target.
As part of the effort approved by the board – which plans on drafting its own letter as a body to call attention to the issue – the district is asking parents, teachers and community members to support the district by writing legislators and asking to “Share the Promise of Prop 98 by establishing a new aspirational funding target for the LCFF.”
Part of what is making the push so pivotal is the increase in operating expenses for the district between the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years – attributed to increased health benefit costs, contributions to employee pension systems, and a significant increase in the money needed for special education programs because of increased enrollment.
“We are spending our savings due to these must fund requirements of the state and federal governments,” Breitenbucher informed the board.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.