Boards endorse lawsuit

School organizations claim state funding is at illegal levels.

May 21, 2010|By Max Zimbert

Local school boards are throwing their support behind a lawsuit filed Thursday that claims the California education system has been underfunded by billions for years in violation of the state Constitution.

The lawsuit represents years of work by the California School Boards Assn. and state Parent Teacher Assn. organizations, who have the full backing of local boards in Glendale and Burbank, officials said.

A successful outcome would force state legislators to create a new mechanism to fund public education according to levels proscribed in the Constitution, said Glendale school board member Mary Boger, who serves as vice president of the California School Boards Assn.


“Every child in this state is constitutionally guaranteed a free and appropriate education,” she said in an e-mail. “School board members have waited year after year for an unstable, unsound and insufficient funding structure to be corrected. Year after year, those who hold office in Sacramento have failed to this address this fundamental right of our students.”

Burbank Unified Board of Education President Roberta Reynolds said school financing is inconsistent from year to year.

California has among the highest academic standards in the nation, but ranks 47th in funding per student.

“I’m happy to be in the same place where I’m supporting the Parent Teacher Assn. position,” said Reynolds, a former president of the group in Burbank Unified. “This is important for all of us.”

State Parent Teacher Assn. President Jo Loss called her group’s involvement an unprecedented step, a description endorsed by Patty Scripter, vice president for legislation in the Glendale Parent Teacher Assn.

“We feel we can no longer rely on advocating for better resources for all children, we have to be more proactive,” Scripter said. “I think most members are disappointed it’s come to this.”

The Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada school boards are not plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Nine school districts from around the state, as well as 60 individuals and other organizations, like the Assn. of California School Administrators, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

Glendale Unified Supt. Michael Escalante said the nine school districts suing the state personify some of public education’s greatest challenges.

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