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February 21, 2006

For More Information, Contact:
Hema Sareen Mohan at (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO – State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that he has introduced SB 1358 to help low-wealth, under-funded school districts across California.

Simitian’s SB 1358, which is sponsored by the Governor and jointly authored by State Senator George Runner (R-Antelope Valley), allocates $200 million annually to equalize funding for K-12 schools.   

“I’m pleased to see the Governor step forward this year to propose funds for our low-wealth school districts,” said Simitian.  “This is a fundamental issue of fairness.  Disparities in funding mean disparities in opportunities for student success.  That has to change.”

“This bill represents a major stride forward for California schools—erasing one-half of the inequity that currently exists in per pupil funding,” said Alan Bersin, California Secretary of Education.

“We’re happy to see Senator Simitian continue his efforts to ‘level up’ in school districts with fewer resources,” said Cupertino School Board member Pearl Cheng.  “It means our students will have an equal shot at success.”
Redwood City School Board member Shelly Masur said, “This bill will make a huge difference for our children and in our ability to provide them with a high quality education.”

“This legislation is critically important for our schools to get the adequate funding they need,” said State Senator George Runner. 

The dollar amount of per pupil spending per school district, known as revenue limit funding, varies from district to district based on historical funding formulas as well as changes in law. 

The effort to even out or “equalize” funding has largely been driven by the Serrano v. Priest court case when the California Supreme Court ordered the State to reduce inequities in school funding.  Although the last Serrano case was closed in 1986, significant differences in per pupil spending still persist.

“Our students deserve equal opportunities to achieve,” Santa Cruz City Schools Board member John Collins said.  “I’m pleased that Senator Simitian is helping to level the playing field.”

SB 1358 builds on Simitian’s ongoing efforts to equalize school funding.  While in the Assembly, he authored AB 441, the “Fairness in Education Funding Act,” which allocated $40 million for equalization funding in the 2001-2002 budget.  AB 441 also established a long-term goal of $400 million to equalize schools to the 90th percentile by the 2006-2007 school year. 

Simitian added, “This bill is all about leveling the playing field for under-funded school districts and the kids they serve.  It’s just that simple.”

Simitian, a former local school board member, is a member of the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Education.  He chairs the Senate Select Committee on California’s Master Plan for Education.