Podcast: Adventures in Ed Funding

Join us as we journey through the surprisingly fascinating world of schools, money, and California's future.

This series is for everyone who works in and around education -- plus anyone who wants to learn more about what drives the most important institutions in every local community: our public schools.

From local educators, students, parents, and administrators -- to education advocates, researchers and capitol insiders -- we seek out the perspectives and stories of those who have had a hand in shaping school funding, and all those who are touched by it.

19 Mar

Complex. Mystifying. These words are often used to describe education funding -- and yet, funding is the crucial ingredient to ensure our public school system meets the needs of all students, families and society. This series is for everyone who works in and around education -- plus anyone who wants to learn more about what drives the most important institutions in every local community: our public schools.

12 Feb

It has been exactly a year since we launched the Adventures in Ed Funding series. And what a year it was! In addition to our focus on school finance, we also produced additional episodes with timely information and stories to help schools and communities navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. In total, our first season included 36 shows. Here's a quick look back at just a few of the highlights during a difficult time when we've all learned so much.

10 Dec

What has it been like for school district human resources departments during these many months of pandemic? What are key challenges faced and lessons learned from recruiting, hiring and negotiating in a virtual environment? In this episode, special guest Norma Gonzales, Assistant Superintendent of HR and Interim Associate Superintendent of Business Services in Washington Unified School District in West Sacramento, helps us explore HR topics essential to school district operations.

24 Nov

The latest state budget outlook. Fiscal implications for schools. Safely reopening campuses. Tips for successful negotiations. These topics and more were on the table when school business leaders and state fiscal experts gathered remotely the week before Thanksgiving for CASBO's CBO Symposium.

We can't possibly convey all the insights and information packed into those two days. But in this episode we do bring you highlights, key takeaways and a flavor for this year’s event.

04 Nov

Despite the pandemic, California students are beginning to return to campuses for in-person instruction. In this episode, we connect with education leaders in San Diego and Napa counties to explore how schools in their regions are addressing key guidelines for reopening safely, including partnering with their county health departments to test employees for the COVID-19 virus.


15 Oct

How do education stakeholders, political leaders and policy experts view California’s school funding system and what would it take to come together around a comprehensive, coordinated effort to increase funding in California? 

25 Sep

Economic development and public policy trailblazer Lenny Mendonca -- who most recently served as Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Chief Economic and Business Advisor --  takes us inside the administration’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) and shares insights on a range of vital topics, including: 

09 Sep

Time is running out for Congress and the President to reach a deal that provides additional coronavirus relief funding for states and schools before the end of the year. 

In this episode, Kevin Gordon, President of Capitol Advisors Group, offer a timely take on the political dynamics in Washington D.C., and the potential implications for California’s classrooms and state budget. Will additional relief be approved? What key differences between the U.S. Senate, the House and the White House must still be worked out? 

05 Sep

On the last night of August, the California State Legislature wrapped up its 2019-2020 legislative session in a flurry. Many bills were passed and sent to the Governor, but several difficult issues were left unresolved. In this episode, CASBO’s dynamic team of advocates Sara Bachez and Elizabeth Esquivel share highlights. What were some of the legislature’s final actions (or inactions)? What are potential education budget and fiscal implications? And what is a frenzied last night of session in Sacramento really like, especially during this time of physical distancing?

31 Aug

Veteran local school board member Xilonin Cruz-Gonzalez helps us explore the education landscape during and after COVID-19 from a local governance perspective. What has worked well? What big challenges remain? How are local school boards navigating safety and instructional guidelines and finding new ways to engage their communities in a physical-distance environment?

16 Aug

As California school districts work to safely reopen schools during COVID-19, the alarming specter of costly litigation looms, even as districts follow all state and local health and safety guidelines.

09 Aug

What are some of the vital operational elements that school business leaders must keep moving forward and aligned as their districts implement school safety and back to school plans? In this episode, Lafayette School District Chief Business Official and CASBO Vice President Diane Deshler helps us explore the ongoing work of a school business office during these days of pandemic and economic crisis. 

02 Aug

She serves as President of the California State Board of Education, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute, and is one of the nation’s leading education researchers...In this episode Dr. Linda Darling Hammond shares what’s on her mind as plans for the new school year continue to take shape. How is distance learning going?

28 Jul

With so much information, guidance and politics swirling about how the new school year will begin due to COVID-19, it can feel stressful, overwhelming or in the words of one district superintendent, as if we are often “scrambling remotely.” In this episode, we invite you to – breathe in deeply and exhale slowly – as we "recenter" ourselves and connect with three truly inspiring individuals: a student, teacher and principal. Each shares unique and powerful experiences about what they are learning during the crisis and how can we build on it.

10 Jul

Proposition 15 on the November 3, 2020 statewide ballot would generate billions in new funding for schools and other local services by changing the way commercial and industrial property taxes are assessed. How would Proposition 15 work? And how is the campaign shaping up?

19 Jun

The new state budget agreement will include up to $11.1 billion in K-12 payment "deferrals." But what exactly are deferrals? How do they help the state balance its budget? And what are the implications for local school districts?

19 Jun

When schools start up again, we do not have to go back to business as usual in our educational system. Instead, the disruption caused by COVID-19 provides an opportunity for us all to see, engage and act differently to produce success for all students in the system, not just some. That's the call to action brought forward in this episode by our special guest Hugh Vasquez, senior associate with the National Equity Project.

11 Jun

What will school bus service look like when schools re-open? What will it take to get those yellow buses we all miss back on the roads?

In this episode, two California school transportation experts lead us on an adventure into “Bus World.” We explore how school districts are planning to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19 so that California students can be safely transported to and from their school campuses.  

04 Jun

California educators, school leaders and communities have never faced a moment with so many intersecting crises: pandemic, economic, educational, civic. While schools just wrapped up the 2019-20 year, the push is on to determine how to ready schools for the coming year. It's no easy task. 

22 May

Catch up quickly on the latest California state budget news with CASBO’s governmental relations team, Sara Bachez and Elizabeth Esquival. They highlight recent legislative reactions and deliberations since the May Revise was released on May 14, as California grapples with closing a massive state budget deficit.

Sara and Elizabeth review key elements of the Governor's proposal, which called for, among other things, a 10 percent cut to the Local Control Funding Formula. 

21 May

Students, families, communities -- our entire society -- we're facing tough times. During such times, California's public schools are more vital than ever -- and schools depend on talented, knowledgeable school business officials to keep all aspects of our education system functioning smoothly and safely.

In this episode, Jamie Dial, CASBO President and the Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for Kings County Office of Education, joins us for a timely conversation about school business.

16 May

California’s already inadequately funded schools now face the prospect of unprecedented budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, special guests Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi, CASBO President Jamie Dial, and school finance guru Rick Simpson help us consider the difficult budget circumstances we find ourselves in -- and how to prepare for the jarring journey ahead. 

07 May

What will it take so schools across California can re-open in ways that are safe for students and staff? 

26 Apr

Guest Heather Hough, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), joins us to highlight research and perspectives related to the fundamental importance of public education, school funding levels and policies, and proactive approaches that should be on the table as California plans its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

29 Apr

What if you considered all the ingredients that go into making a great educational experience for students? If you added these up, how much do you think California would need to invest per student to make sure we could provide a quality education to all? 

18 Apr

Special guest Mary Jane Burke, Marin County Superintendent of Schools, describes how schools, community organizations and local government agencies are stepping up together in a powerful way to meet the needs of children and families. 

10 Apr

In less than four weeks, school districts across the state have embarked on a massive shift to provide distance learning for their students, now that all campuses are physically closed. What is distance learning, really -- and what is it not? And what are the many different steps, including planning, logistics and behind the scenes activities that need to occur for districts to make this pivot quickly and successfully?

03 Apr

In this episode we explore early financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on California schools: What should we know, what should we be planning for, and what might the road ahead look like? There are both some optimistic and sobering stops along the way.

27 Mar

California’s public school districts are rising to the challenge of providing students with much-needed meals during the COVID-19 crisis.

20 Mar

In less than two weeks, nearly all school districts and schools in California have closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These closures impact six million students and their families, plus hundreds of thousands of educators, school and district staff, and leaders. Moreover, school closures deeply affect our local communities. 

20 Mar

Sadly, we have a crisis on our hands -- locally, across the state and nation, and globally -- as we work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The magnitude of, and speed at which, we find ourselves in this new circumstance is hard to fathom. The road ahead is largely uncharted. 

06 Apr

How can it be that many California school districts are staring into the face of painful budget cuts, even as overall school funding has increased in recent years? Why isn’t more funding available in many districts for priorities such as hiring additional counselors, teachers and staff and adding programs for students? It’s an unusual situation one researcher called, “The Silent Recession” – and it’s the subject of this episode's adventure.  

23 Mar

Why is California's Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) so significant? In this episode, we continue our journey through major milestones in school funding history with our first stop to LCFF-land. Special Guest Saa’un Bell, Strategy Director at Californians for Justice, helps us explore why the state’s shift to an equity-based system beginning in 2013 was so historic.

19 Mar

How did California slide into such a deep school funding hole, and how can we climb our way back up? These are among the questions we take on in this latest adventure with special guest Gary Hart. 

As a former state legislator, longtime Senate Education Committee Chair, and Secretary of Education, Gary offers the critical perspective of someone who was “inside the Capitol building” during a truly pivotal time in the early life of Ed Funding.

19 Mar

The Proposition 13 (2020) School Facilities Bond will help ensure that students across the state have access to safe, healthy and modern learning environments.

On March 3, California voters have an important opportunity to pass this statewide school bond measure. It provides critically needed resources for renovating and building schools in districts throughout the state. Proposition 13 (2020) includes significant funding for K-12 schools, plus the University of California system, California State Universities and the California Community Colleges.

19 Mar

Would California schools actually be better off if Proposition 98 had never come into being? Why is it still so important to understand? And where do we go from here to fulfill the initiative’s promise of bringing state spending per student to the top ten among states? 

On this show, we’re big believers in the axiom that to get where you want to go, you need to understand where you’ve been. That’s why we’re making a special journey this episode into the recent history of school funding in California. Think of these as Ed Funding’s formative years. 

19 Mar

Journey with us to California’s Inland Empire as we consider this foundational question: What do school districts spend their funding on? Special guest Rich De Nava, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services for the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, helps us explore where schools devote their money. Hint: the vast majority is spent on people. 

19 Mar

In our inaugural episode, Guest Samantha Tran from Children Now, a statewide nonprofit organization, takes us through a study comparing a typical California high school to similar schools in two other states that invest more per student than California. What the study found, she says, was jarring.

Public school students in California don’t have the same types of experiences and opportunities that kids in most other states do. 


Adventures in Ed Funding

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