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Newsom Proposes $61.3 Billion For K-12: More School Days And Grants For In-Person Classes

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School zone traffic signs near Mariposa-Nabi Primary School in Koreatown. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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Nearly a third of the money in Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed state budget—$61.3 billion—is aimed at K-12 education.

The governor says he’s struggled to support his own young kids with online school during the pandemic, and personally understands other parents' concerns about distance learning.

“It’s very challenging,” Newsom said. “Those kids are falling through the cracks, and we have all the support in the world.”

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California's funding allocations for public education from 2011 to 2022 according to Proposition 98. (Courtesy Gov. Newsom's Office)
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The state money budgeted for public schools is unprecedented, Newsom says, as a result of the funding system put in place by Proposition 98, which sets education funding at a minimum level according to revenue from state and local property taxes. For years, that money has kept going up, largely on account of increased state revenue.

Here’s how the governor has proposed to spend the money.

Expanded Learning Time and Academic Interventions Grants — $4.6 Billion

Newsom is proposing $4.6 billion to compensate for learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering expanded classroom time, like summer school or extended school years. The details, Newsom says, would be flexible for each district.

“One size does not fit all. Different cohorts, different populations, different dynamics, different governments, different leadership,” Newsom said. “But we’ve got to invest in more time and attention to those most at need.”

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Low income, homeless and foster youth, as well as English language learners are intended to be prioritized. The proposal could go before the state legislature on an earlier schedule than the budget as a whole.

In-Person Instruction Grants — $2 Billion

Late last year, Governor Newsom already proposed a $2 billion plan for reopening schools, and over the last week has faced pushback from some of the largest school districts in the state, including L.A. County districts.

The plan offers $450 per student to schools that reopen for in-person class, if the coronavirus case rate is low enough. To qualify, districts must draft a safety plan and get it approved by labor unions, county and state governments and health departments.

If high COVID-19 caseloads prevent a large district from opening, they will still be eligible for the full grant amount — once they reopen.

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Deputy Superintendent of the L.A. County Office of Education, Arturo Valdez, says L.A. area schools are right to be concerned about that.

“You can’t have the largest county in California be left out of the loop,” Valez said. “It does not seem equitable in any way, shape or form.”

Newsom says he will meet with superintendents from California’s seven largest school districts on Monday to discuss their objections.

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