On behalf of all of our students, I want to thank the Stanislaus County community for passing Proposition 30.
Proposition 30 brings financial stability to school districts after five years of budgetary decline. However, schools still face major fiscal challenges.
Proposition 30 brings no new revenue to schools; it simply maintains the current level of funding and avoids further devastating cuts. Funding for Turlock Unified remains 22.3 percent below "full funding" as determined by the state, and 10.3 percent below 2007-08 levels of funding.
Also, the state continues to delay cash payments to schools to help its own cash position. This requires districts to use other sources of cash, including borrowing at high interest rates, to meet monthly obligations such as payroll.
Schools continue to suffer the reductions made over the past five years. Some of the budget cuts have resulted in more efficient operations, but many of them negatively impact the direct education of students as well as the support that is provided to those students to meet their educational goals. Elementary campus supervision, library hours, high school counseling, supplemental instruction such as summer school and funding for special programs such as robotics are some of the areas in which Turlock Unified has been forced to cut.
Class sizes have increased and funding provided to school sites for materials and supplies has decreased. Many districts have been forced to reduce the number of instructional days during the school year. There are many areas of educational support that we hope to restore in the future as the state economy recovers.
I know we share the goal of ensuring all of our students are prepared for college and careers. Our district is working hard to increase graduation rates, college readiness, and career and technical education opportunities. We are also focused on ensuring all students apply 21st-century skills in our classrooms and throughout their educational careers.
We are making progress in many of these areas. Our financial and human resources are focused on what's best for our students. Sadly, even with the passage of Proposition 30, our schools remain some of the most poorly funded in the nation, second only to Mississippi, according to many indicators.
Proposition 30 is an important step toward reversing the fiscal deterioration of the past five years, but there is much work to be done to restore programs and give students the support they need to succeed.
Da Marto is superintendent of the Turlock Unified School District.