Riverside County supervisors not backing governor's education proposal

Gov. Brown is requesting the Legislature approve $4.5 billion in additional K-12 appropriations

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - With support lacking, Riverside County supervisors declined to act on a resolution backing Governor Jerry Brown's proposed funding for various kindergarten-to-12th grade education programs in the next fiscal year.

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Benoit submitted the resolution, which called for the board to "advocate for the restoration" of funding allocations for a host of programs in California schools, as outlined in the governor's May Revise.

Brown is requesting the Legislature approve $4.5 billion in additional K-12 appropriations, which would go toward implementing national standards of achievement in "English-language arts and math" as well as providing more resources to enable schools to reduce class sizes.

According to the governor's office, the supplemental funding would translate to 16 cents more in per pupil spending, primarily for English learners and low-income students.

"This is a step in a positive direction. I believe we should be supportive," Benoit said. But Supervisor Jeff Stone questioned whether the proposed funding increases couldn't just as easily be used to "backfill" pension liabilities faced by some school districts. He also took issue with hiking spending for non- English speaking students "when we have English speakers who cannot speak or write properly. "

 "I wish Sacramento would leave education decisions at the local level," the supervisor said. "Federal and state offices of education have failed us."

Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, a three-term Republican state lawmaker, also opposed the resolution, saying his years in Sacramento taught him that it was not wise to go "hitching your wagon to the governor. "

"We should make a statement of our own regarding funding priorities. I do not want my name attached to this resolution," Jeffries said.

After Supervisor Marion Ashley expressed his own reservations, Benoit asked that his proposal be taken off the board's policy agenda, which the supervisors voted unanimously to do.

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