State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson thanked Governor Jerry Brown for signing a 2017–18 state budget on Tuesday that increases education funding for K-12 public schools, after-school programs, early education and child care, and teacher recruitment and training by nearly $3 billion.
“The Legislature and Governor clearly showed their strong and ongoing support of high-quality public education in California,” Torlakson said. “When we invest more in our students, we help them succeed on their way to 21st-century careers and college.
“This budget continues the strong growth in what I call the ‘California Way,’ where legislators, the Governor, education groups, the business community, and others are working closely together to keep improving our education system.”
The Legislature approved the budget on June 15, the date required by the State Constitution. Governor Brown’s signature on Tuesday means the new state funding plan starts on July 1.
California has the nation’s largest public school system with more than 6.2 million students at nearly 10,000 public schools.
Overall funding in Proposition 98 — the voter-approved Constitutional guarantee for a minimum level of education funding — will go up to $74.5 billion, nearly $3 billion more than the current budget.
The budget also includes:
More funding for early education and child care, including rate increases for care providers, cost-of-living adjustments, and $8 million to add nearly 3,000 full-day State Preschool slots starting March 2018.
$50 million more for the After School Education and Safety Program. Funding levels had been flat for several years despite increased enrollment and demand for more services. These expanded learning programs serve nearly 500,000 California students at almost 5,000 sites.
$2.5 million for Equity Performance and Improvement Team grants, which the California Department of Education will distribute to help schools, districts, and county offices of education to improve learning for student groups such as English learners, African Americans, foster youth, and others whose test scores, graduation rates, and other measures lag behind statewide averages. Torlakson has strongly supported finding ways to close what is commonly called the “achievement gap.”
Funding for teacher preparation and professional development, including $25 million to help classified school employees such as school nutritionists and safety personnel become teachers; $11 million in grants to increase teacher retention and recruitment, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); and $5 million in professional development for bilingual teachers. Demand for bilingual educators is expected to grow in the 2017–18 school year because California voters last year overwhelmingly approved Proposition 58 to remove outdated barriers to bilingual and multilingual learning.