Marching for money
The major funding source for California’s public schools falls short of the national average.
According to the National Education Association, California pays about $1,000 per pupil less than the national average of $6,000, ranking the state as 41st in per pupil spending.
But parent Sue Novasel wants more for her children, who attend school in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. So she is taking her request straight to the Capitol steps.
Novasel has joined Barb Cohen, of Truckee, in a campaign to rally for more state funding. It’s called the Grass Roots Effort for Adequate Public Schools Funding.
The group, which originated out of Truckee, has gathered support from parents, teachers and administrators from all over the state to march on the steps of the Capitol Tuesday, just hours before the annual Christmas tree lighting event.
Novasel said the purpose of the march is to call attention to what she called the underfunding of public schools.
“We’re hoping we can get the word out that we need more money in our schools,” she said. “It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”
About 70 percent of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s revenue comes from state funding that is based on students’ average daily attendance. Funding at the national average would have given the district an additional $5 million – money that could have been used to solve teacher contract negotiations which have been dragging on for more than a year.
According to Novasel, who missed securing a seat on the school board in November by fewer than 500 votes, additional funding for salary increases needs to come from additional revenue sources, not budget cuts which the district is currently assessing through a superintendent- appointed Budget Advisory Committee.
Novasel is a member of the committee.
“It was part of my campaign issue,” she said. “I’ve looked at the budget over the last three months and I’m concerned about making budget cuts – it’s not a matter of cutting expenses, it’s a matter of getting more revenue by seriously trying to lobby for more money.”
Novasel said the group will meet at 1:30 p.m. at the corner of Tenth and L streets in Sacramento and make the walk to the Capitol steps together.
“I’d love to have everyone get involved,” she said. “It’s a win-win situation if we can get more money.”
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