Superintendents of six California school districts sent a letter to state legislators on Monday after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he would cut school budgets by $7 billion.
In their letter the superintendents say that re-opening school campuses in the fall will take more, not fewer resources. The letter lays out cost increases that districts have shouldered to accommodate distance learning, provide more meals to students and engage in enhanced cleaning practices, among other things.
School superintendents of Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento signed the letter. Together those districts serve nearly one million students.
The superintendents propose other ways for the legislature to provide financial relief to districts which are not in Newsom’s budget. Those include allocating money from the state’s rainy day fund, changes in special education funding, and a statewide surcharge on utilities to pay for computers and internet access for students. The letter also seeks assistance in procuring personal protective equipment and requests protection from legal liability if students or staff contract the coronavirus once schools re-open.
Gov. Newsom is proposing to make up for the budget cuts by diverting nearly $6 billion in one-time funding from the federal CARES Act to school districts. Those funds would need to be spent by the end of 2020 on measures to reduce learning loss and re-imburse schools for COVID-19 spending.