Updated at 11:30 a.m. with comments from the California School Boards Association.
Local school officials said today they will sue California over $2.1 billion in education funding they believe state leaders should have provided in the June budget.
The California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and school districts will hold a press conference Wednesday to explain their case. The San Francisco Unified School District is among those participating.
School groups face a Wednesday deadline to challenge the state budget, according to CSBA assistant executive director Rick Pratt.
School administrators have bristled at the state budget ever since Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown brokered a last-minute deal with the California Teachers Association in June. Teachers won job protections and restrictions on how school districts can cut their budgets if the state determines in December that revenues will fall short of expectations.
The backdrop to that deal was the fact that the CTA, one of the most powerful forces in the Capitol, could have filed the same suit against the state that CSBA and ACSA are announcing this week.
K-12 schools are due to receive roughly the same amount of funding they had last year, even as the state expects a surge in tax revenues. Under Proposition 98's constitutional provisions, California is required to give about 40 percent of any tax spike to K-12 schools, and the school groups believe that amounts to the $2.1 billion they are seeking.
To avoid that requirement, lawmakers and Brown agreed to a onetime diversion of $5.1 billion in sales tax dollars to counties to pay for new responsibilities, such as housing state prisoners in local jails. As part of the deal with CTA, state leaders agreed to seek taxes on the 2012 ballot and to reimburse schools for the $2.1 billion retroactively if those taxes fail.
At the time, state leaders believed that may have been enough to avoid a lawsuit on the Proposition 98 issue. But the school groups were never satisfied with how the budget turned out.
Pratt said the coalition filing the lawsuit is concerned that the latest budget action sets a bad Proposition 98 precedent. The groups fear that state leaders may use similar maneuvers in future budgets to pay schools below the constitutional guarantee. He also noted that lawmakers can change their promise to pay $2.1 billion retroactively at any time because it is not embedded in the constitution.
Assembly Republicans previously asked Attorney General Kamala Harris to opine on whether the state budget was legal. Harris' office declined that request earlier this month because it said it would have to represent Brown and other state officials in the "highly likely" event of a lawsuit.