As I mentioned last week, each year in March, for the past 10 years, our office has issued an Annual Education Report for the county’s public schools and we host an event each year to present and discuss the Report. The Report is included as an insert in the Tribune and this happened last Wednesday. The Report is available online at www.slocoe.org. For the past three years, we have expanded the Report to include Cuesta College as well as our K-12 schools. Last Wednesday morning, Dr. Gil Stork and I hosted the Education Forecast meeting at Cuesta College and today I’ll give some of the data highlights of the Report for this year. Again, the purpose of the Report is to give the residents of our county information relating to student demographics, student achievement, school district budgets, successes and challenges facing our schools and Cuesta College. It is our version of a “stockholders report” since local taxpayers contribute almost $250 million in local property taxes in addition to state income and sales taxes to support public education in our county.
DEMOGRAPHICS. (Who Are Our Students?). First, there are 34, 539 students in the K-12 schools and another 9, 325 students enrolled in the three Cuesta College locations in the county. We have remained steady in enrollment for the past three years after experiencing a decline each year from 2001-02 through 2010-11. We have about 2500 fewer students this year than 10 years ago. This decline is caused by a combination of lower birth rates in the county and the cost of housing, making it difficult for young families to live here. Cuesta has about 3800 fewer students than just four years ago primarily because of lower funding from the state. We are anticipating that the K-12 enrollment will remain fairly stable for the next few years, but Cuesta is hoping to regain the enrollment numbers from a few years ago.
STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT (How did Our Students Perform?) Our K-12 students continue to exceed the state averages in all categories of student achievement. The Academic Performance Index (API) is the primary “scorecard” with the scale being from 200-1000 and the target being a score of 800. This accountability measure is based primarily on student performance on the California Standards Tests (CST’s) in math, English/Language Arts as well as science and history at the high school level. Our average score for the county is 826 as compared with the state average of 790. Seven of our 10 districts had scores of 800 or higher and the other three were in the high 700’s. Cuesta also exceeded the state benchmarks both for vocational employment and transfer-prepared success (measure of transfer to CSU and UC systems).
BUDGETS (Show Me The Money). The majority (65%) of our income for both K-12 and Cuesta comes from local property taxes. Income from the state is the next major source with federal revenue and local sources (student fees for Cuesta) making up the remainder. For both K-12 and Cuesta, the largest portion of expenditures go to personnel (over 80%) reflecting the fact that we deliver our services through people. The student fees for a full time Cuesta student is about $1,300, with half of that amount being covered by the Cuesta Promise for next year.
SUMMARY. Our students, both at the K-12 and the Community College level, continue to out-perform their peers and hopefully our local taxpayers feel they are getting a good return on their investment of both local and state taxes. Next week I’ll talk about some of the challenges we face as also outlined in the Report.