Dinuba school board condemns Prop 98 reduction

Trustee Mary Villarreal speaks to the public during a meeting of the Dinuba Unified School District Board of Trustees June 13, 2024.(Serena Bettis)

Dinuba Unified School District Board of Trustees voices opposition to “troubling” Prop 98 maneuver in 2024-25 state budget

DINUBA – On the heels of a public hearing for the 2024-25 budget, which is projecting an overall deficit in the district’s general fund revenues and expenses, the Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) Board of Trustees expressed its displeasure at the decisions Gov. Gavin Newsom made about education funding in his May revision of the state budget.

Newsom proposed lowering the Proposition 98 minimum funding guarantee, prompting backlash from school districts and education advocacy groups across the state. In response, the DUSD Board of Trustees passed a resolution at its June 13 board meeting opposing Newsom’s May Revise and highlighted the ways in which the proposed state budget could impact education funding in the future.

“The governing board of the Dinuba Unified School District condemns the governor’s May Revise for undermining the spirit and statute of Proposition 98, violating the state constitution, contradicting the expressed will of the voters and reducing future school funding by billions of dollars,” the resolution said.

Proposition 98, a constitutional amendment passed in 1988, establishes a mandatory minimal level of funding for K-12 education and community colleges that the state annually allocates to local educational agencies.

The May Revise of the state budget proposes lowering the minimum funding guarantee set in the 2022-23 fiscal year and use what the California Budget and Policy Center has called a “complex budgeting maneuver” that shifts the funding already distributed in fiscal years 2022-23 and 2023-24 to later years to reduce the minimum guarantee required for the 2024-25 fiscal year, thereby reducing the state’s general fund expenses.

The resolution says that the May Revise “defies the spirit as well as the statutory and constitutional requirements” of Prop 98 and “sets a troubling precedent that could be used by future governors and legislatures to avoid complying with the Prop 98 funding guarantee.”

Board members briefly discussed the resolution, with Trustee Ron Froese saying he can see “the point of public education, but (can) also see that they’re required to balance a budget.” Froese said his concern is that the state needs to look at why it has such a steep revenue shortfall and why residents are moving away.

DUSD Trustee Mary Villarreal and Board President Bev Keel-Worrell attributed the loss of residents to state policies.

“It’s not even about reducing (the funding), it’s about dismantling Prop 98; that is the issue,” Villarreal said.

Education advocacy groups are continuing to voice their opposition to this aspect of the budget proposal as the State Legislature hammers out a final budget deal.

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