As we all push towards getting back to some semblance of normality, opening schools is one of the most important steps. However, the proposed budget cut from the governor and the necessity of making schools safe for students make for a challenging situation.
In May, the governor has estimated a $54B deficit and has proposed a 10% cut in the school district’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF). The LCFF is used to calculate how much a school district receives from the state. For Milpitas Unified, in the 2019-2020 school year, LCFF provided $94.7M of the district’s $115.3M revenues or 82% of its funding. The proposed 10% LCFF reduction to the district is then $9.4M from this latest LCAP (Local Control Accountability Plan). There were also other cuts, such as to Career Technical Education, Adult Ed, afterschool education, and child development.
But these cuts don’t begin to address what the district needs to do to ensure that our classrooms are safe to return to. Also, until a vaccine is widely available, it is reasonable to assume that the district will need to support a hybrid model, one that has some students physically in classrooms while others continue distance learning. In order to support that, the district has made some estimates, with the caveat that the definition of a safe environment continues to change, at the May 19 board meeting:
- Technology costs for additional chrome books, security, teacher assessment tools, and communication are estimated to be another $4.75M
- PPE, disinfectant, signage, desk dividers (safety material) is estimated to be $3.3M
- Nutrition services will need to cover $600K to cover the costs of meals that have been provided for students during the shelter in place, as they did not receive any revenue from food sales and catering
- Additional subs (30 for 180 days) to cover staff teaching remotely or vice versa is estimated at $800K
These major areas potentially add up to another $9.45M. As you can see, the cost to reopen our schools has an impact of over 20%. And keep in mind, these are just the estimated major expenses. The County Health Department has not provided the guidelines for safe classrooms yet, and in the end, the costs could be higher. Also, we have yet to look at additional supports for mental health, EL students, Special Education students, or Adult Education students.
And having a cut of that magnitude will definitely impact the district’s ability to deliver a high-quality education experience to students. While the district is still working through where the cuts will need to be made, it’s important that parents and the community let the California legislature know about their concerns.
Call to action
I have talked to Assemblymember Kansen Chu about this topic and he will carry this message to Sacramento. But one voice is not enough. Here are some ways to proactively help:
- Write your own letter to our State representatives. For Milpitas:
- Sign my letter on change.org to the Governor Newsom
- Learn and consider advocating for the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative
- Advocate for More Federal Funding, estimated need another $200B