SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGTV) — Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom presented his $227 billion budget proposal for the year, including the largest education budget the state has ever seen.
"$85.8 billion. The highest investment per pupil that the state has ever, ever advanced," Governor Newsom said Friday morning.
This amount is under Prop 98 or the "Classroom Instructional Improvement and Accountability Act," which mandates a minimum amount of education spending for public schools.
Of the $85.8 billion, $2 billion will go toward immediate action to accelerate and incentivize schools to return to in-person instruction starting in February. The first group of children to be allowed into classrooms will be Pre-K through second graders.
The governor cited scientific studies that say young children are least likely to get ill from or spread the virus.
Troy Flint with the California School Boards Association says that money may help more affluent communities or areas where the virus is under control. But it will not go to schools where the infection rate is high that they cannot reopen.
"Where people are more skeptical that students will be safe in the spring, where there maybe be more challenges in the home or in the communities, and where the districts may not have staffing, this may not be the solution," Flint said.
Wednesday, superintendents of seven of the largest public school districts, including Cindy Marten of San Diego Unified, wrote a letter to Gov. Newsom, addressing this inequity issue.
Newsom's current proposal includes $4.6 billion to address learning loss, particularly to help low-income students. This provides funding for summer school and before and afterschool programs. It also includes $400 million for school-based mental health services.
"Whether it is going to be sufficient for some of the districts that have greater challenges like many of our urban districts remains to be seen," Flint said.
Newsom says he has a meeting scheduled with superintendents next Monday. Flint hopes that the meeting will produce some more clarity in the language of the budget.
"Defining what the standards are regarding return to school," Flint said. "Are there going to be uniform state standards? If not, is there going to be more support to meet the specific demands of local communities?"
Lawmakers will have until June 15, 2021, to pass the budget in the state legislature.