Friday, October 23, 2015

NEWS RELEASE FROM SAN DIEGO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT: San Diego Unified Unveils Classroom Funding Model that Highlights How Smart Investments Close the Achievement Gap in California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             

October 23, 2015

Contact: Ursula Kroemer, chief public information officer, (619) 725-7505


San Diego Unified Unveils Classroom Funding Model that Highlights How Smart Investments Close the Achievement Gap in California



SAN DIEGO – California can prepare virtually all of its students to succeed in school and the workplace through targeted, proven strategies. San Diego Unified has recently examined the key district initiatives and strategies that hold promise in closing the achievement gap. With these approaches, the academic rigor and creative entrepreneurship needed for solving the state’s looming crises – such as climate change, competing in a global economy, and sustaining a quality way of life – is within our grasp.


The San Diego Unified School District has developed a public education investment tool that illustrates the district’s need for an additional $350 million in funding per year above the 2014-15 funding level to provide all students the world-class education they deserve and that will all but eliminate the achievement gap, increase the graduation rate, and prepare students for jobs in the 21st century.


“We have identified the proven strategies that enable all students to succeed, no matter where they live, their family income, or their race, gender, nationality or ethnicity,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “The genius inside each and every student is unlocked when we believe in our children and instill in them the self-confidence to dream big and pursue opportunities that might not seem possible. This investment model is how we can deliver on the hope and promise of public education in California.”


“To achieve our vision and make it a reality, we need to turn successful data-driven pilots into full-scale programs across all schools,” she added.


“San Diego Unified and California public schools must be funded at a more robust level to close the achievement and serve all students while providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in today’s society and to maintain California’s advantage in this global economy,” said Marne Foster, President of the Board of Trustees for the district. 


The investment model released on October 21 highlights improvements that would be realized for students with more robust funding, and highlights staffing and cost projections, divided between the current reality for San Diego Unified using the 2014-15 fiscal year as a baseline, and what the more appropriate scenario would be if K-12 public education was funded at a proper level.  The investment gap between the two levels - $350 million – translates to a per-student increase of a minimum of $3,250.  When applied to 2014-15 levels, per-student funding would have moved from the actual baseline of $8,063 to a more robust figure of $11,313; a figure essentially consistent with the national average.


The tool was developed in response to state legislators’ questions about what funding should look like for California school districts, after years of drastic budget cuts slashed more than $20 billion in education funding throughout the 2009 recession.  Since December 2014, the superintendent, board members and staff have been working to develop a model that defines the appropriate academic support systems and classroom environment needed for every student to graduate college and career ready.


Essential investments needed to support student achievement and close the achievement gap reflected in the investment model include:

·         Instruction in arts, sciences and world languages at elementary school sites

·         Specialized literacy, math and English learner support at every school site

·         Nursing support for social-emotional wellness at every school site

·         Counseling support for college and career readiness at every school site

·         Parent education support at every school site

·         Increased clerical support (library/media/central support) at every school site

·         80 hours of additional instructional time

·         Increased funding classroom supplies


The template has been shared with districts throughout California as part of the larger statewide discussion around more robust funding levels and the additional financial investments all districts believe are needed to support academic excellence in our public schools. Other districts will be able to adapt the investment model to meet the needs specific to their schools and local community.


Proposition 98, approved by voters and enacted in 1988, amended California’s Constitution and established an annual minimum funding level for K-14 education. 


“The intent of the initiative was to create a stable funding source for schools. Unfortunately this has become a ceiling instead of the floor for a minimum funding level,” said John Evans, Board Vice President. “Proposition 98 established statewide goals that per-student spending would equal or exceed the per-student spending of the top ten states across the nation, and that average class size would be equal to or less than the average class size of the ten states with the lowest class sizes. California has failed to live up to its constitutional target and its promise to the voters.”


According to the National Education Association’s most recent rankings from 2012, California had the highest number of students enrolled per teacher in public elementary and secondary schools. California’s average number of students per teacher was 24.9, much higher than the national average of 15.9.


California’s budget has improved since the passage of Proposition 30 in November 2012 but education funding remains below the national average. According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau report, California’s total state spending in 2011-12 was well above the national average. However, California’s spending on education during this time was below the national average. More recent data from 2011-12 show California ranked 46th in per pupil spending. The same 2015 survey shows that the state’s per-student spending of $8,308 in 2011-12 was 29 percent below the national average of $11,735, adjusted for regional cost differences.  California’s per-pupil spending is far below the average per-student spending for the top ten states in the country during this same time period at $15,967.


Marten and the Board cited a continued sense of urgency in advocating for proper and equitable education funding from Sacramento.


“It is clear that, by any measurement, California schools are woefully underfunded and students are not receiving the resources they need to succeed in school,” said Foster. “We will continue to work side-by-side with our legislature, our educators, our families and stakeholders in this ongoing dialogue. Our schools deserve nothing less.”


As parents, we are well aware that the funding for education in California is nowhere near what is needed,” said Derick Boerner, Vice President of Legislation for the San Diego Unified Council of PTAs. “The San Diego Unified Council of PTAs applauds the San Diego Unified School District for its advocacy efforts to increase funding.  We look forward to working with the district to make these goals a reality.”


San Diego Unified will continue to urge the Legislature to convene informational hearings on how the state can provide more robust, stable, and consistent funding levels for schools in order to meet the state’s and local districts’ educational goals to close the achievement gap. The Legislature, in collaboration with stakeholders, will need to consider the steps California would need to take to develop a long-term investment plan to support schools and students.


The district is planning to increase stakeholder support and understanding by holding several Public Education Funding Town Halls in the upcoming year. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 4, from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the Eugene Brucker Education Center auditorium, 4100 Normal St., San Diego, CA, 92103. For more information go to  


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