Friday, March 08, 2013


By Kimberly Beltran | SI&A Cabinet Report |

Wednesday, March 06, 2013  ::  Worried about the fate of adult, early childhood and career-technical education programs across the state, members of a legislative panel on education finance said Tuesday they will be taking a hard look over the coming weeks at the impact Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed school funding formula could have on those key offerings.

Both the K-12 education system and the state’s preschool and early childhood learning programs have sustained major cutbacks over the five years since the onset of the national recession. While the passage of Proposition 30 last November helps restore some of the funding to K-12 districts, Brown’s 2013-14 budget plan contains no new revenue for pre-K programs, nearly decimated by cuts last year.

“Study after study and nation after nation and state after state has said – and now we can add the president to that list – that the money is best spent in high-quality early childhood education,” said Concord Democrat Susan Bonilla, chair of the Assembly’s education finance committee. “To ignore what all the data says about putting money into the early years would be foolhardy and, frankly, kind of flies in the face of what everyone in the educational world has accepted as very positive and productive.”

The governor’s budget also includes his plan to restructure the way schools are funded by the state. Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula would deregulate spending restrictions on money previously reserved for special programs, including career-technical education. In addition, the new formula would shift responsibility for adult education programs from the K-12 system to community colleges – a move both state schools chief Tom Torlakson and the non-partisan Legislative Analyst said they oppose as currently proposed.

“I do not think it would be an effective move to move adult education to the community colleges. They have a different mission,” Torlakson said on Tuesday. “For the community colleges, with their own budget challenges, they would have a difficult time launching a whole new program and making contracts to have local access.”

Bonilla and several of her colleagues on the panel also expressed concerns over the potential loss of career-technical education programs, since school districts, still underfunded compared to other states and pre-recession years, would be able to use those funds for any educational purpose.

Assemblyman and newcomer Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, pointed out that a successful career technical education program, operated through a joint-powers agreement between six districts in his home district, is planning to dissolve if the governor’s funding plan is adopted as proposed. The Southern California Regional Occupation Center, created in 1967, serves 10,000 students a year and employs 120 teachers, all of whom have received layoff notices, Muratsuchi said.

Torlakson’s legislative affairs director Erin Gable, however, said the superintendent’s office believes the governor’s funding formula can be tweaked to ensure the continuation of CTE programs.

“We believe that there’s room to work within the proposal to include some sort of add-on for high school base grants around career-tech education to ensure that there’s a strong infrastructure that remains in place; that’s there’s no loss of program offerings at the local level, and that goes into each of the CTE programs that have been very successful and continuously underfunded statewide,” Gable said.

Sharon Scott Dow, representing Molly Munger’s Advancement Project, also suggested that the committee consider one-time funding allocations to help school districts implement the new common core curriculum standards as well as new assessments based on those standards. The state adopted common core in 2010 but they have yet to be implemented due to a lack of funding.

Since the national recession began in 2008, California has grappled with a decline in state revenues that in turn has negatively impacted state funding for education. However, with the passage of the Schools and Local Public Safety Protection Act of 2012 (Proposition 30), schools were spared billions of dollars in mid-year trigger reductions.

The governor’s 2013-14 budget estimates a Proposition 98 minimum guarantee for schools of $56.2 billion, $2.7 billion above the current year funding level and a 5 percent increase year-over-year.

Proposition 98 funding growth is greater for community colleges (10 percent) than for K-12 education (4 percent); however, about half of the additional increase for the community colleges is related to the governor’s proposal to restructure adult education.

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