Monday, January 12, 2015

BROWN’S BUDGET: (One-tenth of 1%) more for Common Core, Internet, charters, special ed – next-to-nothing for facilities

by Craig Clough | LA School Report |

Figure from Gov. Brown's proposed 2015-16 budget

January 9, 2015 12:05 pm  [* UPDATED]  ::  Gov. Jerry Brown‘s proposed state budget for 2015-2016, released today, includes $52 million more in K-12 funding than last year’s budget.

<<Figure from Gov. Brown’s proposed 2015-16 budget

The increase, which would bring the state’s K-12 education spending to $47.12 billion, a one-tenth of 1 percent increase over last year, includes more money for Common Core implementation, Internet infrastructure, special education, emergency repairs and charter schools. It also proposes more state oversight of teacher preparation programs and changes that Brown says will help the state better fund local school infrastructure needs.

2cents small …help the state better fund local school infrastructure needs? Really?  See: Budget leaves facilities crisis for another day (following)

Spending on K-12 education represents 41.6 percent of the budget, by far the largest category of state spending.

The budget “proposes investments for 2015‐16 that will substantially increase funding distributed under the Local Control Funding Formula, providing additional funding to school districts and students most in need of these resources. These funds will allow schools and colleges to restore and expand base programs and services, implement major new policy initiatives, and support other key local investments and priorities.”

Superintendent Ramon Cortines of LA Unified, the largest school district in the state, said, “We appreciate Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for real prudence in facing the 2015-16 budget. At the same time, we are grateful that the governor acknowledges with this budget proposal the value of public education in California.”

He added that the additional money “offers an opportunity to close the more than $300 million deficit that we anticipate in 2015-16. This will get us closer to our goal of limiting the number of Reduction-in-Force notices that will need to be sent to employees.”

Among the key items in the governor’s budget on K-12 education:

  • Total per‐pupil expenditures from all sources are projected to increase to $13,462 in 2015‐16 from $13,223 in 2014‐15.
  • Additional growth of approximately $4 billion for school districts and charter schools in 2015‐16, an increase of 8.7 percent.
  • $100 million in one‐time funding to support additional investments in internet connectivity and infrastructure. This builds on $26.7 million funding that was provided in the last budget.
  • $1.1 billion in discretionary one‐time funding for school districts, charter schools and county offices of education to further their investments in the implementation of Common Core.
  • An increase of $59.5 million to support projected charter school ADA (average daily attendance) growth.
  • An increase of $15.3 million to reflect a projected increase in Special Education ADA.
  • An increase of $273.4 million in one‐time resources for the Emergency Repair Program.
  • An increase of almost $900 million in one‐time spending to eliminate all remaining outstanding deferral debt for K‐12.

On the issue of teacher preparation programs, the budget stated that “oversight of the educator preparation system is currently not robust enough to verify that programs are meeting preparation standards and producing fully prepared teachers.”

The budget proposes $5 million to convene an Accreditation Advisory Panel to provide recommendations to the Commission on streamlining preparation standards, develop better data systems and surveys and “increase transparency and access to information about the quality and effectiveness of educator preparation programs.”

The budget also proposes an additional $5 million over a two-year period to update the Teacher Performance Assessment and develop an Administrator Performance Assessment to “verify educator quality and to assist with determining the effectiveness and quality of preparation programs.”

Brown’s budget pointed out despite $35 billion in voter-approved bonds since 1998 to construct or renovate public school classrooms, there remain “significant shortcomings” in the current School Facilities Program.

The budget proposes changes in the program that will help the state focus on “districts with the greatest need, while providing substantial new flexibility for local districts to raise the necessary resources for school facilities needs.”

The California Federation of Teachers praised the proposed budget for contributing “to better achievement levels for our student” and for helping “to restore school programs we need for a quality public education system.’

But the union pointed out that the state still ranks “near the bottom of the nation in per pupil funding and class size average.”

“The governor is a prudent steward of the state’s budget, but we also need his leadership in ensuring that California’s students and our most at-risk communities have the resources they desperately need in the coming years,” said CFT president Josh Pechthalt. “The governor should go beyond simply acknowledging that the source of California’s success is Proposition 30; we need to make this progressive tax and its success permanent, build on it, and the governor should lead the way.”

Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, said:  “The governor’s budget proposal gives us hope after learning yesterday that California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil funding. Even with the fruits of Prop. 30 and unprecedented revenue increases, we’re still at the bottom nationally on how much we invest in our students. We see the governor’s continued commitment to a brighter future for our state by allocating funds to repay the billions of dollars that had been cut from students, schools and colleges.”

*Adds response from LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines, CTA and CFT.

Budget leaves facilities crisis for another day

Budget leaves facilities crisis for another day

by Tom Chorneau, SI&A Cabinet Report | 

January 12, 2015 (Calif.)  ::  Despite signals that his administration was ready to undertake a sweeping change for how new schools are paid for and older ones updated, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled Friday a far less substantial facilities program, pushing the larger policy debate off for another time.

Brown’s education budget, buoyed by billions of dollars in tax revenue tied to Wall Street profits, would increase K-14 spending by $7.8 billion over what was provided last year while directing millions of additional dollars to support career technical education, adult services and expenses tied to the Common Core State Standards.

Calling the 2015-16 spending plan “carefully balanced,” Brown once again is keeping a tight grip on state purse strings by proposing to put $2.8 billion into a new rainy day fund and paying off $2.2 billion in debts – including $1 billion owed to schools for funding deferrals made during the recession.

Brown also resisted calls to restore state support to health care and social service programs that were drastically reduced beginning in 2009.

“We saw the boom and bust and I’m trying to avoid that,” the governor said at a news conference Friday.

Brown’s education budget held few surprises given that most of the dollar increases were driven by the voter-approved, Proposition 98 funding guarantee. But because his office had convened a series of meetings in the fall over the growing facilities crisis, there was much anticipation over how the administration would reshape the school construction system.

Instead, Brown has proposed several modest policy changes:

  • Increase the borrowing caps on schools based on community property assessments.
  • Establish a single developer fee statewide with a cap placed somewhere near the mid-point of the existing fee schedule.
  • Give schools more flexibility in the use of maintenance money that is now restricted.

The administration also announced its intent to target future state facilities money to districts that need it the most – including communities with low property values and few borrowing options, as well as overcrowded schools.

Except for an increase of $274 million for the Emergency Repair Program – which would retire the state’s obligation under terms of the 2004 Williams lawsuit settlement – the governor’s budget would not add any new money to the state’s pools for construction projects despite the fact that they have nearly run dry.

Having criticizing the existing facilities system as “overly complex,” “cumbersome” and expensive,  expectations were that Brown would outline some significant new plan, especially after repeatedly opposing attempts to ask voters to approve a new statewide bond, the traditional method the Legislature has used to support school construction.

“Passing bonds is a very complicated process, it takes years, it’s more expensive,” Brown said in response to a reporter’s question about facility funding last week. “I think the locals can do it more efficiently and I think they’re in the best position to judge how to allocate priorities.”

Joe Dixon, assistant superintendent of facilities and governmental relations at Santa Ana Unified School District, said that the state still needs to play a role in facility funding.

“Having just a local solution to the problem is not going to solve the problem because it’s uneven and it’s unequal across the state,” said Dixon, who is also a member of the non-profit state organization Coalition for Adequate School Housing. “There are many districts that have bonding capacity but they don’t have the assessed valuation to even access that.”

“It’s a big state and it’s the state of California’s – as part of the Constitution – responsibility to provide education for the citizens,” he said.

“We’ve had a successful program, and now we don’t,” he added. “I don’t understand why it got shut down. Does it need to be tweaked? Yes. But you don’t shut it down – you keep it going and you tweak it.”

Three other proposals in the governor’s budget received a far better reception: $1.1 billion for Common Core implementation; $500 million to support adult education; and $250 million in new career technical education grants.

The one-time Common Core money would be given to districts without restrictions, but most schools face significant costs tied to the new content goals, including new instructional materials, training teachers and preparing for a new computer-based testing system.

The $500 million for adult education would be used for basic skills programs, classes in citizenship, English-as-a-second-language courses and services to adults with disabilities.

Career technical education used to receive $500 million each year as a separate categorical program but that money was absorbed into the Local Control Funding Formula in 2013. Brown wants to provide $250 million to CTE each of the next three years.

The grants would be contingent on districts providing a dollar-for-dollar match and districts would need to show evidence that their programs produce results.

Other education funding highlights from the budget:

  • $100 million in onetime Proposition 98 funding to support internet connectivity and infrastructure.
  • $10 million to help the Commission on Teacher Credentialing develop new preparation standards; improve data systems and to develop an administrator evaluation system.
  • $320.1 million for energy efficiency project grants under Proposition 39.
  • An increase of $59.5 million to support projected charter school growth.
  • An increase of $15.3 million to reflect a projected increase in special education enrollment.

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