Deferrals Magnify Inequity

State deferrals sucked $8 billion out of California classrooms this year. That’s existing tax dollars, constitutionally guaranteed to schools, that are instead used to secretly prop up other government spending. This policy forces schools in the poorest neighborhoods to get cash loans to just keep their doors open.

In tough economic times, schools need to be able to spend money as effectively as possible to educate students. Yet Sacramento’s plan for financing local schools is, “teach kids now and we’ll pay you later.”  Because this has happened year after year, the money and flexibility to plan ahead has effectively been eliminated from school program budgets and reserve accounts.

Our analysis of the data has shown that there is no connection between the needs of the student population and how much money is being pulled out of their classroom through deferrals. We find that the schools districts with the greatest percentage of poor students are more likely to have significant per pupil spending deferred, as you can see by the general trend with this analysis of all unified school districts.

2012-13 Deferral $ Amounts
Relative to % of Students Eligible for Free & Reduced Price Meals
All Unified LEAs

And this analysis has also found a general trend showing that a district or public charter school with lower total revenue is more likely to have a greater amount of per pupil funding deferred, which is the exact opposite of what is fair and constitutional. Shouldn’t those who are already getting less, be protected from this pilfering?

2012-13 Deferrals Relative to Revenues per Pupil
Detail of Unified School Districts with Revenue between $5,500 and $8,500

See how districts and public charter schools in your community fare and how irrational and inequitable the distribution of deferrals is in your region. LEAs (school districts and public charter schools) are organized by State Senate and Assembly district and a tool is provided to find yours in case you don’t know which district you live in. Or, if you want to find out how much money has been deferred from your district, click here.

Source: Deferral data is from the California Department of Education and the 2011-12 Revenues are from the California Department of Finance.