SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond celebrated the recent signing of the 2023–24 state budget bill and today’s signing of the associated trailer bills, noting the degree to which new and continued funding reflects the priorities he has championed for public education since taking office. Despite budget tightening due to economic uncertainty, the 2023–24 education budget totals $108.3 billion in Proposition 98 General Fund monies, including a cost-of-living adjustment of 8.22 percent for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and additional programs funded outside of LCFF.
“This budget reflects California’s ongoing commitment to excellence in public education. With targeted investments in pandemic recovery as well as support for our high-needs and socioeconomically disadvantaged students through the expansion of equitable opportunities, California stands apart in our commitment to creating safe, inclusive, excellent learning environments,” said Thurmond. “When we invest in all our children, we are building a better tomorrow. What students learn in our classrooms today will be a critical driver of our state’s economic rebound and future success.”
Thurmond has been a champion for numerous educational reforms that are reflected in the new budget. In the areas of early education and literacy, the budget includes $762 million to expand access to Universal Transitional Kindergarten. It provides an additional $250 million to augment the Literacy Coaches and Reading Specialists Grant Program, which builds on an initial $250 million appropriated last year and supports the development of school literacy programs and interventions to help pupils in need of targeted support. The budget also includes $1 million to create a Literacy Roadmap to help educators apply the state’s curriculum framework to classroom instruction, navigate the resources and professional development opportunities available to implement effective literacy instruction, and improve literacy outcomes for all pupils with a focus on equity.
There is also a new, significant Equity Multiplier included in the budget that will provide an ongoing $300 million annually for school sites with a high percentage of socioeconomically disadvantaged pupils and with high non-stability rates. This funding supports evidence-based services and supports to improve student outcomes. This concept originated as an idea in Thurmond’s Black Student Achievement Task Force and with legislation he sponsored, Assembly Bill (AB) 2774 (Weber).
As part of his work to promote equity and excellence for all students, Thurmond championed several other key pieces of legislation that have been folded into the new state budget. Specifically:
Thurmond fought to increase the stipend to $40,000 for the teacher residency program. This is a tremendous win for education and is a direct result of Senate Bill (SB) 765 (Portantino), which was sponsored by Thurmond.
Thurmond was an early supporter of SB 691 (Portantino), a mandate for local educational agencies (LEAs) to assess young pupils for risk of reading difficulties such as dyslexia. LEAs will be required to screen children in kindergarten or grades one or two starting in 2025–26. This work is supported by a $1 million allocation for a panel of experts to select approved screening tools. The screening mandate grew from this bill and, under Thurmond’s leadership, the CDE convened parties including the UCSF Dyslexia Center to strengthen the bill further so the final language and funding could be included in the budget.
The $20 million to expand the Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Program, AB 1127 (Reyes), was sponsored by Thurmond and remains a key part of Thurmond’s literacy and teacher recruitment and retention work.
AB 555 (Carrillo), the removal of barriers to serving three-year-olds in California State Preschool Programs, was supported by Thurmond and demonstrates a historic opportunity to serve families that need it most during the expansion of Universal PreKindergarten.
While the overall budget news for California schools is positive, the new budget does include a $1.6 billion reduction to the $7.9 billion Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant that was in place for county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools for learning recovery initiatives to be used through 2028. Additionally, there is a reduction of $200 million from the $3.6 billion initially allocated to the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant. Both proposals were established in the 2022–23 Budget Act.
Other notable aspects of the 2023–24 state education budget that remain critical to State Superintendent Thurmond’s priorities include:
Fully funding the cost of California’s Universal Meals Program with an appropriation of $110 million in the 2022–23 budget year and a $154 million increase in the 2023–24 budget year.
Addressing opioid overdoses in middle and high schools and providing LEAs access to resources from the State Opioid Settlement. This includes $3.5 million annually to allow LEAs to purchase opioid antagonists such as Naloxone.
Providing $4 billion in ongoing Proposition 98 funding for the Expanded Learning Opportunity Program for afterschool and summer options for all students.