Cuts, cuts, cuts.
History defines the present. What is the history behind school budgets?
The Serrano Cases (via wikipedia)
Serrano I (1971)
Initiated in 1968 in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Serrano v. Priest (John Serrano was a parent of one of several Los Angeles public school students; Ivy Baker Priest was the California State Treasurer at the time) set forth three causes of action (quotes from the decision).
- California’s method of funding public education, because of district-to-district disparities, “fails to meet the requirements of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the California Constitution.”
- “[As] a direct result of the financing scheme they are required to pay a higher tax rate than [taxpayers] in many other school districts in order to obtain for their children the same or lesser educational opportunities afforded children in those other districts.”
- “[That] an actual controversy has arisen and now exists between the parties as to the validity and constitutionality of the financing scheme under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and under the California Constitution.”
The Court agreed with the plaintiffs, largely on equal-protection grounds, and returned the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
Serrano II (1976)
In San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez (1973), the Supreme Court of the United States reversed a similar decision by a Texas District Court, which like Serrano I had been decided on Fourteenth Amendment equal-protection grounds. In Serrano I, however, the California Supreme Court had relied in addition on California’s constitution, and in Serrano IIthey affirmed that basis, protecting the Serrano decisions from Rodriguez.
The Serrano II decision also held that the legislative response to Serrano I was insufficient, and affirmed the trial court’s order requiring that wealth-based funding disparities between district be reduced to less than $100 by 1980.
Serrano III (1977)
Serrano III dealt primarily with attorneys’ fees, but in passing affirmed the trial court’s response to the Serrano II decision, including a six-year timetable for bringing the funding system into compliance.
Proposition 13 (1978)
The legislative response to Serrano I and Serrano II was significantly constrained by California Proposition 13 (1978), and an initial property-tax-based solution was replaced by a funding scheme that relied more heavily on state (as opposed to district) revenue, which has remained in effect, with occasional adjustments, ever since.
California Proposition 98 requires a minimum percentage of the state budget to be spent on K-14 education. Prop 98 guarantees an annual increase in education in the California budget. Prop 98, also called the “Classroom Instructional Improvement and Accountability Act,” amended the California Constitution to mandate a minimum level of education spending based on three tests. Test one, used only for 1988 to 1989, requires spending on education to make up 39% of the state budget. Test 2, used in years of strong economic growth, requires spending on education to equal the previous years spending plus per capita growth and student enrollment adjustment. Test 3, used in years of weak economic growth guarantees prior years spending plus adjustment for enrollment growth, increases for any changes in per capita general fund revenues, and an increase by 0.5 percent in state general funds.
This is accomplished by shifting specified amounts of property tax revenues from cities, counties and special districts to “educational revenue augmentation funds” (ERAF) to support schools statewide. Proposition 98 can be suspended only by a two-thirds vote of theCalifornia Legislature.
The initiative was a result of 1978’s Proposition 13, which limited assessed property taxes to one percent of a home’s value in California and thus limited the amount of local funds that could be spent on school districts.