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Under the proposed weighted student formula system, the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) may face yet another staggering budget loss. If this proposal were to pass, California high school districts would receive a certain amount of money for each student learning English as a second language and each involved in the Free and Reduced Lunch program. The promoters of this bill hope to aid schools in areas of lower socio-economic status. This is a goal that California should definitely be working towards, but this system would seriously hurt some of California’s great public schools, including Acalanes.
AUHSD is one of two districts in Contra Costa County that would actually lose money as a result of this system. The new bill would give schools $66 more for every student who is learning English or is receiving Free and Reduced Lunch; because Acalanes has very few of these students, the state would begin to give it less money each year. (For more details, turn to page N3) The projected loss over six years is $44,448,102. Acalanes could not take the blow of another serious budget cut without having to implement drastic changes. The school would lose many of the programs that provide its reputation for excellence, one of which could be Blueprint.
It is necessary to create a more fair and equitable budget system, but high-achieving schools should not be crippled at the expense of others. This bill would be a great solution if the funding were to be taken from some other sector of California’s budget, instead of from other schools.
California’s flailing economic situation is another story entirely, but it’s time for education to become a priority again. The state currently spends over $10 billion on prisons and rehabilitation centers each year. Perhaps if the California government allotted some of those funds for underprivileged schools it would not need to spend so much money on correctional facilities.
Many argue that Acalanes could simply compensate for the budget cuts with increased community donations. But parents and community members are sick of giving money. With each budget cut over the past few years, they have stepped up to the plate and donated to local schools. The parcel tax in 2009, implemented to alleviate damage from a statewide budget cut, barely passed, so it’s unlikely that yet another would. It’s far too risky to assume that Acalanes would be able to make up for its losses. If this bill were to pass, Acalanes could not maintain the same quality of education.
The bottom line is that the state should give more money to struggling schools, but it should not take away such a large amount of resources from successful schools to do so. The state needs to place a greater focus on education. Acalanes students should not have to sacrifice their educations for the sake of a crumbling state financial situation.
The budget cuts that have been plaguing nearly every institution from Happy Valley Elementary to the University of California Berkeley need to stop now. If the state needs to continue scaling down its spending, so be it, but it’s time for another sector to take the bullet.