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February 18, 2004

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SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that he has introduced legislation to help equalize school funding for underfunded schools across the State. AB 2178 allocates $110 million in equalization funds for K-12 schools, and $80 million for community colleges in the next fiscal year. The amounts match the proposed equalization funding contained in the Governor’s 2004-05 budget.

“The work to ‘level-up’ underfunded schools is not yet done,” said Simitian, whose Assembly Bill 441, the Fairness in Education Funding Act from his first term, allocated $40 million for equalization funding in the 2001-02 budget. The bill also called for a total of $400 million to equalize schools to the 90th percentile by the 2006-07 school year.

Inequities in revenue limit funding—the dollar amount of per-pupil funding per school district—have been a chronic problem for California schools, despite decades of court rulings to bring funding levels in line. Today, revenue limit funding still varies widely from school district to school district, with extreme cases showing a disparity of almost $3,000 per student.

“This disparity in funding means disparate opportunities for student success. We need to level the playing field for underfunded districts and the children they serve,” said Simitian.

Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher (R-Brea) joined Simitian as a joint author on AB 2178, which already has more than 45 co-authors—both Democrats and Republicans—in the Assembly. Senator Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is also a co-author.

AB 2178 follows on Simitian and Daucher’s efforts in the final hours of the 2003-04 budget negotiations last year to pass a $50 million school funding equalization measure. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly, but was stalled by the Senate.

“We’re happy to see Assemblyman Simitian continue his efforts to ‘level up’ in school districts with fewer resources,” said Pearl Cheng, board president of the Cupertino Union School District. “It means our students will have an equal shot at success.”

Said Redwood City School Board Member Dennis McBride, “This has been a longstanding concern for Redwood City. We’re glad to see Assemblyman Simitian continue to push this issue to the forefront.”

Revenue limit equalization has broad-based support from education advocacy organizations throughout the State including the California PTA, the California School Boards Association (CSBA), the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the Association of Low Wealth Schools and numerous school districts.