I’m not a math major, even though I gave birth to one. And clearly, California’s State Assembly and Senate aren’t math majors either. As part of the budget bill passed in June, Assembly Bill 114 directs “…each school district budget shall project the same level of revenue per unit of average daily attendance as it received in the 2010-11 fiscal year and shall maintain staffing and program levels commensurate with that level.
(B) For the 2011-12 fiscal year, the school district shall not be required to demonstrate that it is able to meet its financial obligations for the two subsequent fiscal years.”

Brilliant! No one likes lay offs. So the state is funding schools differently right? There’s the kicker. Sacramento politicians are telling school districts not to cut jobs, and don’t try to predict future funding beyond the year they’re in currently. When a budget is 85% salaries, it’s difficult to fathom what they could cut when projections don’t meet actual revenue. Midyear, when a school district could conceivably tweak their expenditures to fall in line with revenues, the district will be forced to watch as it spends more than it brings in. And thanks to AB 114, they don’t need to have a two- or three-year plan on the books to look ahead and address funding issues down the road.

Why is it that common sense solutions that work at home don’t seem to cross the minds of folks in Sacramento? If I have to balance my checkbook every time I use it, I project both expenses and income, and take into consideration what’s coming up in future months based on previous years. Certainly surprises happen–a car dies, a water heater blows, but I don’t limit which funds I can shift to pay for it. And I’m certain I would weigh possible job losses or significant changes in income into the mix.

Sure, this year the state “found” a couple of billion dollars earlier this year based on inadequate projections, but given those types of errors, I’m concerned they can easily err the other way as well. According to the LA Times, the law offers shortened school years as a way to balance district budgets–from the currently allowed five days to a staggering 12.

Maybe state politicians can come home and volunteer to teach for free on those days–just so long as they don’t teach math.

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