Four months into the fiscal year, K–12 and community college practitioners across California are intimately familiar with the most significant aspects of the 2020–21 State Budget pertaining to education as they prepare to absorb over $12 billion in deferred state payments and adjust their local spending plans in accordance with the resources available through the Budget—all the while attending to the learning needs of their students and preparing to reopen their facilities for in-person instruction once it is safe to do so. While many lived through the Great Recession just a decade ago, the COVID-19 health pandemic ushered in an unprecedented crisis in public education, calling for continuous innovation and heightened, if not new, collaborations at the district, county, and state levels. That is to say, leading their local agencies through a tough budget spawned by an acute recession—while critical—is but one of many challenges K–14 leaders and their staff must manage today.
Understanding the Adopted State Budget, however, is important for local agency business offices and leaders, particularly during tumultuous times. To aid in understanding the State Budget and its local implications, each year the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) releases a report describing the major features of the state’s spending plan. The LAO released its analysis of the education spending plan on October 29, 2020.