It’s called “the alligator chart” because it looks like a reptile’s gaping maw. Nicknamed by its creator, the Sacramento-based education consulting firm School Services of California, it’s one graph that voters should clip on their refrigerators to remind them what’s at stake this November when they consider more money for K-12 schools. School Services shared an updated version with district officials recently during its annual budget management seminars around the state.
If the governor’s tax initiative fails, the gap between what is statutorily owed K-12 schools and what they will receive will be a record gap of $1,944 per student: a deficit factor of 28.8 percent. Source: School Services of California, Inc. (Click to enlarge.)
California’s school funding law, Proposition 98, is complex, and the Legislature has tortured the language to make it more abstruse. The alligator chart cuts through verbiage to visually capture how much money has been cut since 2007-08, the last year that the Legislature funded schools without IOUs for lost cost-of-living increases or direct cuts. Since then, the difference between what schools were entitled to receive (tip of the snout of the alligator’s open mouth) and what they have gotten (the yawning bottom jaw) has grown ominously large.