The California School Boards Association, joined by a handful of school districts, wants the state to reimburse K-12 districts for programs they say the state required and should have paid for.
"The state expects schools to foot the bill for millions of dollars in mandated costs that they do not fund and rarely pay back," Kathy Kinley, president of the California School Boards Association, said in a statement.
Richard L. Hamilton, director of the Educational Legal Alliance, said the state owes school districts $415 million for programs it underfunded and $475 million for programs it never funded. The current budget contains $160 million in unfunded programs, he said.
"These are claims filed by school districts over the years,"
Kinley argued that the state paid only a fraction of what it owed this year, appropriating just $38,000.
Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer said the Schwarzenegger administration has not seen the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed in Sacramento Superior Court.
"We will have further comment once we have reviewed the particulars of this lawsuit," Palmer said. "Regardless of the suit, K-12 has been and will be receiving the lion's share of budget dollars even in a challenging fiscal environment."
Under a change in the state constitution instituted in the wake of property-tax-cutting Proposition 13, the state is required to reimburse local agencies when it mandates new programs or a higher level of service.
In the past, state finance officials have said school districts became increasingly demanding in requesting payment over the years.
Education advocates say Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have avoided paying for a wide range of additional responsibilities given to schools.
The anticipated lawsuit is expected to seek reimbursement of "new programs and higher levels of service" the state demanded of school districts. School districts involved in the suit argue they never got paid.
Besides the school boards association, plaintiffs include the San Diego County Office of Education,
Background Press Release: CSBA, EDUCATION LEGAL
2007-08 mandates cost $160 million, only $38,000 appropriated in budget
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
by Brad Sherwood, CSBA Public Information Officer | Office: 916-669-3244
The California School Boards Association’s Education Legal Alliance, along with the San Diego County Office of Education,
“The state expects schools to foot the bill for millions of dollars in mandated costs that they do not fund and rarely pay back,” said Dr. Kathy Kinley, CSBA president. “Although the cost of the K-12 mandates for 2007-08 is estimated at $160 million, this year’s state budget appropriates only $38,000, or $1,000 per mandate statewide. The carry-over debt from prior years is approximately $415 million.”
For a number of years, CSBA and its Education Legal Alliance, as well as other education associations working on the state budget, have questioned the authority of the state to essentially defer payment of the 38 K-12 reimbursable state-mandated programs.
Starting with the 2002-03 fiscal year, the Legislature has failed to include an appropriation in the budget act to fully fund the mandate claims submitted by school districts/county offices. Instead, the Legislature has included in the budget acts, and the Governor has approved, only $1,000 per mandate, even though the costs of these mandates, and the claims submitted, far exceed that amount. The carried-over debt is known as the “credit card debt.”
The 2006-07 state budget appropriated some $900 million to fund the accumulated debt and added some funding for 06-07 mandates. However, this appropriation failed to pay off the past debt and was inadequate to cover the current year obligation. In the 2007-08 budget, the Legislature and the Governor have again pulled out the “credit card,” thus, deferred payments are a reality along with a continuation of previous debt incurred.
higher level of service on any local government (including school districts), it must reimburse the local government for the costs incurred.
Thus, school districts/county offices are being forced to bear the costs of new programs and higher levels of service mandated by the state, until some future time when the state chooses to appropriate funding. The last time this “credit card” debt occurred, school districts/county offices had to wait five fiscal years before any effort was made to pay off the deferred debt.
The lawsuit will be filed November 21 in San Diego County Superior Court and the state has 30 days to respond. The case is California School Boards Association Educational Legal Alliance et al v. State of California.