Governor Newsom Release of the May Revision will Result in More School Counselors in CA Schools
For years school counselors have been asked to “do more with less.” Finally, now we are being asked to do more, with more. An incredible turn of events has occurred and astoundingly, the Governor's budget released on Friday supports the hiring of more school counselors.The May Revise was released on May 14th, meeting California's requirements to publish changes to next year's state budget prior to May 15. Unforeseen tax revenue has resulted in unprecedented increases in the state treasury and the amount of money allocated for education is record-breaking. The governor proposed $14,000 in per-pupil school funding. Proposition 98 Guarantee for 2021-22 is $93.7 billion, and over the three-year budget period the Prop 98 Guarantee is $17.7 billion higher than the level included in the January budget proposal. There is a 5.07% “super-COLA” built into the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), and there are billions of dollars of one-time funds for reopening schools in the Fall. Compared to resources available in the 2020 Budget Act last June, the state has both a $75.7 billion surplus and an additional $25 billion available from federal relief. The May Revision also provides an additional $30 million one-time Prop 98 for county offices of education (COEs) to work with their local partners to coordinate and provide direct services to students in foster care. The budget proposal also includes funding for youth mental health services in other areas, including a $3 billion initiative to fund community schools.
CASC applauds Newsom's investment in education, as well as addressing homelessness and housing affordability to the tune of $12 billion. We personally thank California for their investment in small businesses during these difficult times. CASC, as a small non-profit business, was the recipient of both federal and state grant relief this past year that kept our business afloat this year.
THE SPECIFICS: SCHOOL COUNSELORS AND REDUCING SCHOOL COUNSELORS RATIOS?
The $20 billion in investments to “reimagine K-12 schools” is a game changer for California's education system. The Governor is proposing an additional $1.1 billion in ongoing Prop 98 funding for the LCFF concentration grant to address student-to-staff ratios. This additional $1.1 billion grant program would help schools hire more staff, including counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and other staff who work directly with students to address their mental health needs. According to the budget summary, “Children learn and thrive when they feel that they have many adults who care about them, when they are secure, and when their basic needs are met consistently and in a regular, structured manner.”
As you know, CASC's advocacy efforts for the past two decades have been targeted and powerfully driven towards reducing school counselor to student ratios. While our success has been incremental and falling short of national recommendations, progress has been made. Twenty years ago, school counselor ratios were well over 1:1000; now the latest figures report 1:602. However, I predict this budget, when passed, will result in thousands of additional positions being added to the school counseling workforce. The 2006 passage of AB 1802 brought 200 million to increase the number of school counselors in California schools, resulting in an additional 2,500 school counselors to our schools, and we celebrated that victory. In 2012, SB 1458 brought forth a change in school accountability (Darrell Steinberg), resulting in more school counseling positions for California, with CASC being the only state association to back this bill. AND NOW! Please stay tune for the celebration. We know the numbers will be good. We just don't know how good!
Lastly, take action: Check with your school district who are anticipating receiving these additional funds and inquire as to how they plan to demonstrate in their local control accountability plans (LCAP) how the funding was used to increase the number of certificated and classified staff providing direct services to students on campus.
IN APPRECIATION: CASC has been actively involved in influencing Sacramento decision-makers for years. With laserfocus, CASC has been publicizing the ridiculously high school counselor to student ratios and called on partners to help in our advocacy efforts. CASC wants to take this opportunity to thank our advocacy firm, Capitol Advisors, who for years has been front in center in committee hearings and speaking directly with California Legislators and with the Governor's office to tell our story. The intensity of CASC advocacy efforts increased substantially three-years-ago as a result of a new partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We are so grateful for all their efforts, with a special shout-out to Dr. Amir Whitaker for his incredible dedication and leadership. We also want to thank numerous partnerships that have flourished in the past few years including county partnerships through the County Office of Education Leadership School Counseling (COELSC), and strong and growing alliances with the California Association of School Psychologists and California Association of School Social Workers. The past year has also brought expended partnerships with Public Health related institutes and representatives from community counseling agencies. And lastly, all of this could not have happened if it were not for the 2,000+ school counselors who maintain an active membership in CASC and all the committee volunteers and board member who dedicate countless hours to this effort!