Friday, September 27, 2013


By Kimberly Beltran | SI&A Cabinet Report – News & Resources

Friday, September 27, 2013  ::  In a signal to school officials that the Brown administration is unlikely to burden districts with additional compliance requirements tied to the new Local Control Funding Formula, the governor on Thursday vetoed legislation that would have conditioned the funds with new reporting and tracking mandates of English learners.

In rejecting AB SB 344 by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, Gov. Jerry Brown stood firm in his promise to apply the “principle of subsidiarity” – that is, giving local agencies authority to make their own spending decisions.

Brown also sided with critics of the bill – which included the California Teachers Association – who called the legislation premature given that the California State Board of Education is in the process of developing LCFF accountability regulations.

“This bill interferes with the work of the State Board of Education as it implements, through an open and transparent process, the Local Control Funding Formula,” Brown wrote in a veto message. “Moreover, it contains provisions contrary to the July budget agreement. For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill.”

Brown’s reaction to the bill was being closely watched by the K-12 community, many of which have been anxious about exactly how the state board and the California Department of Education would translate legislative priorities and intent into hard and fast regulation.

As a result, there might be a sense of relief. The governor’s veto would seem to suggest his desire to have the LCFF regulations impose as light a burden as possible on schools while meeting the letter of the law.

That said, there remains significant support within the Legislature to tighten the accountability provisions within the LCFF.

Even though a major feature of the program is to provide state grants specifically to help schools and districts that serve large populations of English learners as well as other educationally disadvantaged students, critics have argued that it does not go far enough in ensuring districts will spend the money as the Legislature and the governor have directed.

Toward that end, Padilla, one of the Legislature’s strongest advocates for English learners, put forward his bill to expand the scope of annual external school audits to include analysis of whether funds delivered under the LCFF have been spent properly by local educational agencies on services for English learners and low income students.

The bill, which faced opposition from statewide school organizations during committee hearings in the final months of the session, called for districts to report as part of the LCFF accountability plan the participation by teachers, administrators and other staff in professional development and induction programs.

It would have lowered the student-population trigger for when districts must establish English learner parent advisory committees, and provided that county offices of education have parent councils on English learners as a condition of receiving LCFF money.

Finally, the bill would have prohibited districts from using unspent funds from the Economic Aid Program – money for disadvantaged students that has now been absorbed into the LCFF – for any other purpose than its original intent.

The LCFF gives local school boards far more control over spending decisions. But the LCFF also mandates new accountability measures that include requirements for districts to get input from parents and the community before money is spent and for school managers to use new indicators for tracking student performance.

Districts are also required to adopt accountability plans that detail how they will use the new state money to support disadvantaged students.

The state board is required to develop templates for the accountability plan by March 31, 2014. Districts must adopt the new plans by July 1, 2014.

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