Comprehensive Budget Package Is Key Win for Students, Families, and Educators in California

 

SACRAMENTO—Yesterday’s signing of the 2022–23 state budget package marks another historic year of funding levels for education programs in California. Not only does this budget increase the base funding of the Local Control Funding Formula by approximately $9 billion, a 13 percent increase, it also directs key investments to areas specifically identified by State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and the California Department of Education (CDE), addressing declining enrollment and funding for mental health services, community schools, literacy programs, universal school meals, and programs focused on improving all student outcomes in the wake of the pandemic.

Thurmond issued the following statement in response to the signed budget for the fiscal year 2022–23:

“I am grateful to the Legislature and the Governor for a budget that prioritizes recruiting mental health care providers to serve in our schools, addressing learning gaps, and investing in people and programs to serve all students, especially those most vulnerable. As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, California public schools will see a much-needed infusion of investments at a time when students and schools, especially those that have been traditionally underserved, require more support than ever before.

“This budget affirms and supports the hard work we’ve been doing authoring, sponsoring, and advancing groundbreaking education programs through legislation. The recruitment of mental health care providers to serve in our schools is one of my main priorities, and building off the bill I sponsored, SB 1229 (McGuire), the budget includes $184 million for teacher and school counselor residency programs and expands an existing $350 million residency program to school counselors. It also expands the current Golden State Teacher Grant Program to graduate students pursuing degrees to become mental health clinicians who serve California students, allowing them to receive grants up to $20,000. These investments will ensure that we will see more mental health professionals in our schools and joining the workforce to serve our students.

“The budget appropriates $1.13 billion for the California Community Schools Partnership Program, increasing equitable learning for students by changing different parts of their environment. Community schools support the needs of the whole child, including mental and behavioral health, trauma-informed care, social–emotional learning, and restorative justice. They also improve school responsiveness to student and family needs and organize school and community resources to address barriers to learning.

“Within other budget trailer bills, we are happy to see that the state—building on the work of CDE’s literacy task force and the State Board of Education—remains steadfast in our commitment to investing in literacy. The $250 million to fund Literacy Coaches will allow for intensive literacy action plans in schools with low-income student populations, a long overdue and much-needed investment. Additionally, $15 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding will help 6,000 educators receive reading and literacy instruction certifications.

“As someone who grew up relying on the school lunch program, I know firsthand how transformative the universal meals program is for our students. This is why CDE strongly supported the inclusion of $611 million to continue to fund meals under the state’s new Universal Meals Program.

“We are prioritizing healthy and fresh foods, grown in California, for our students. This budget funds an additional $600 million Kitchen Infrastructure Grant Program and includes an additional $100 million for local educational agencies to implement best practices, including serving California-grown food.

“We’re excited that in the 2022–23 school year California will become the first state in the nation to implement a statewide Universal Meals Program for all schoolchildren as an integral part of a quality education system. Universal school meals will provide the opportunity for all students to reach their full academic potential by fueling their brains and nurturing their social–emotional needs for optimal learning.

 “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our economy, and we are grateful that this budget recognizes that investments in public education will be a critical driver to our state’s rebound. Coming out of two of the most difficult years for education in our lifetime, historic funding levels to the state and for education programs will enable us to heal, recover, and thrive—with specific attention to student mental health and closing opportunity gaps that disproportionately affect students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students in low-income households.

“While this budget is good news for our 1,000 school districts and nearly six million public school students, we still face great challenges and a lot of work together in the months ahead. California’s schools will provide essential resources to students, families, and community members in the short term, and they’ll continue to build innovative long-term programs and strategies to help students heal and recover after several very challenging years.”

Other important education highlights from the budget bill and trailer bills:

  • Increases Expanded Learning Opportunities Program funding to $4 billion
  • Establishes a new home-to-school transportation funding stream
  • Provides a $7.94 billion Learning Recovery Emergency Fund for local educational agencies, including charter schools, for learning recovery
  • Provides a $3.5 billion Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant
  • Funds $1.3 billion and intends to fund an additional $2.9 billion in future years for school facility construction and modernization

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