This fall, California voters said 'Yes' to Proposition 30, raising taxes to fund education. The proposal promised to give money to schools, but is that where the money is actually going?
Kern county officials say 'yes.'
If Prop 30 didn't pass, the administration at Fairfax School District planned to cut staff, sports, and transportation. But, its approval eliminated the need for those cuts, not because the schools got new money, but because more funding would not be taken away.
"We won't see any layoffs. We won't see any cuts to programs," said Jennifer Dewey, teacher at Fairfax School District.
For the last five years, school district's like Fairfax have been cut.
"It's been very difficult. It's been extremely difficult," said Dewey.
The cuts came in the form of an IOU. The state would give less to schools now, but pay them back later.
"The way that the California legislature balanced the budgets over the last five years was on the backs of the education community," said Mary Barlow, Assistant Superintendent of Finance, Kern County Superintendent of Schools.
School districts are supposed to get about $6,800 a year per student. As of last year, the state only paid about 80 percent of that, or about $5,200 a year per student. To make matters worse, schools were getting those payments six to eight months late. This past fall, the state threatened more - $450 less funding per student, meaning more cuts.
"It was just year after year of painful reductions and looking at students and saying you're not getting the education your siblings received," said Barlow.
Fairfax School District was going to cut 12 to 16 staff members, increasing class sizes from 24 to 30. They also planned to cut after school sports and transportation for kids who live within a mile of the schools.
But, Prop 30 changed all that. Schools aren't getting more money, but beginning in June, districts will start getting money they're owed.
"The day after the proposition passed, the potential plan for the budget was halted," said Dewey.
The process to pay back school districts could take seven years, but just the promise of the money is giving districts like Fairfax hope.
"We, as an educational community, can now move forward," said Dewey.
So far, Prop 30 is generating double the amount of tax revenue the state originally anticipated.
As of January 22nd, the Department of Finance said the state collected $8.4 billion in personal income tax revenues this month. That's up from $43.8 billion from January 2012.
Schools will start receiving the money they're owed June 28th.