The Fall River Joint Unified School Board unanimously passed Resolution 8-2017-2018 “Calling for Full and Fair Funding of California’s Public Schools.”
The passing of the resolution is part of a statewide effort initiated by the California School Board Association (CSBA) to encourage the California State Legislature to increase school funding to at least the national average by 2020 and to at least the average of the top 10 states nationally by 2025.
Board President Teri Vigil said, “CSBA has given a resolution to approximately 1000 school districts in the state of California. School Boards of California are uniting to send a message to the Legislature to fund schools at a fair and full amount.”
The resolution points out that while California is the sixth largest economy in the world and has the largest Gross Domestic Product of any state in the nation, the state “falls in the lowest quintile on nearly every measure of public K-12 school funding and school staffing.”
California funds schools at roughly $1,961 per student less than the national average. When adjusted for higher costs in California this translates to approximately $3,462 less per student.
According to the resolution, California spends almost $7,000 per pupil less than the average for the top ten states.
In 2010, CSBA, along with a number of school districts and educational organizations, filed a suit Robles-Wong v. State of California, alleging that the State of California was not fulfilling Article IX of the State Constitution which states that education is “essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of people” and that the “Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement.” The Constitution guarantees that the “Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools by which a free school shall be kept up and supported in each district.”
An appellate court ruled that there is there is no state constitutional guarantee to a certain level of education quality or education funding. The case was consolidated with another case and went to the California Supreme court on appeal in 2016. The Supreme Court of California ruled 4-3 in August 2016 not to hear the case. Justice Goodwin H. Liu wrote in dissent that “It is regrettable that this court, having recognized education in as fundamental right in a landmark decision 43 years ago (Serrano v. Priest) should now decline to address the substantive meaning of the right.”
FRJUSD School Superintendent Greg Hawkins said that the resolution is “a way for all school districts in the state to speak up.”
Residents can contact the school board for a full copy of the resolution.