By John Fensterwald
Officials with the California Department of Finance reassured lawmakers Wednesday that the state would issue the first batch of bonds this fall for K-12 school construction, funding that voters approved in passing Proposition 51 in November.
Chris Ferguson and Jeff Bell, who oversee education policy for the department, confirmed an autumn timeline in response to lawmakers’ questions during a hearing of the Assembly Education Committee. The news will relieve school districts worried that Gov. Jerry Brown, who opposed Prop. 51, might drag out the bond sale to exact more stringent oversight and other changes in the bond process.
But Ferguson said that Brown’s two preconditions for moving forward – the creation of new grant agreements laying out districts’ commitments in receiving state funding and imposition of tighter audits – should be in place by summer. The auditing requirement will be in the “trailer bill,” statutory language accompanying the state budget.
Source: Gov. Brown agrees to issue first school bonds this fall | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
California has the most diverse public school student population in the nation and it is increasingly “minority majority” in its enrollments.
Under components of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula, the state’s 1,000 school districts must devise a plan of action to meet the educational needs for every student in California, where, according to data from the 2000 Census, 60 percent of state residents speak only English, while 40 percent speak another language (either instead of, or in addition to, English).
To that end, the Solano County Office of Education plans to launch a “cultural proficiency” program to better serve students in an increasingly diverse county, where, essentially, the world has arrived during the better part of the last half century.
Source: SCOE to sponsor ‘cultural proficiency’ program for educators – The Reporter
By Fermin Leal
In his proposed budget for the coming year, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated that he wants California to continue addressing the statewide shortage of qualified teachers with ongoing initiatives rather than by funding new reforms.
The initial 2017-18 budget Brown released last week doesn’t include any new money to combat the state’s teacher shortage. Instead, it highlights the $35 million in programs allocated this year to help school districts recruit new teachers.
“No additional investments are being proposed in the governor’s budget, given both the investments that were made (in the 2016-17 budget) as well as the fiscal pressures now facing the state,” said H.D Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance.
Source: Gov. Brown’s proposed budget lacks new funds to combat teacher shortage | EdSource
On January 10, Governor Jerry Brown released a proposed 2017-18 budget that reflects both deep uncertainty about looming federal actions and a tempered economic and fiscal outlook for the state. The Governor forecasts revenues that are $5.8 billion lower — over a three-year period — than previously projected and proposes taking steps to address a $1.6 billion projected shortfall for 2017-18. The Governor’s proposal assumes current federal policies and funding levels, even as the Affordable Care Act and other federal programs face the prospect of cuts with President-elect Trump taking office.
As part of addressing the deficit that his Administration foresees, the Governor proposes to rescind several one-year spending commitments that had been part of the 2016-17 budget agreement, including $400 million for affordable housing programs and $300 million for renovation of state office buildings. The Governor also proposes to “pause” a multiyear plan for reinvesting the state’s child care system.
Source: First Look: Restrained Budget Proposal Reflects Uncertainty About Federal Commitments and Economic Conditions – California Budget & Policy Center
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement today on Governor Brown’s proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year:
“In a year where California’s overall revenue is down, this is still another positive step forward for California’s 6.2 million public school students. The Governor’s proposed budget continues to invest more in helping students succeed on their way to 21st century careers and college.
“The budget proposal adds $2.1 billion to the annual Proposition 98 guarantee for public education, which will increase to $73.5 billion for the upcoming fiscal year. Per-pupil spending under Prop. 98 will reach about $10,900, up from about $10,600 in the current budget year. As state revenue improves and the budget process continues, we hope that support for Early Education remains a priority for our youngest learners.
Source: Comments on Governor’s Proposed Budget – Year 2017 (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Of the three education-related propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, 51, to build new and repair old schools; and 55, to extend a tax surcharge on Californians making more than $250,000 per year, are getting the most media attention.
But it is Proposition 58, the English Proficiency, Multilingual Education initiative, that some believe may have the most long-lasting effect on California’s future.
If approved by voters Nov. 8, it essentially would roll back Proposition 227 of 1998, the so-called “English-only” initiative, and allow multilingual education in public schools.
As written and if approved by a majority of voters, it would keep the requirement that public schools ensure students become proficient in English. Schools would still be allowed to set up dual-language immersion programs if they and families choose to. It would require school districts to provide English learners the option to be taught mostly in English. It would authorize school districts to set up language-immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers.
Source: Strong statewide support for Proposition 58, multilingual education initiative
By Richard Bammer
For many California’s high school students, dreams of attending college are being nurtured by a state grant.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson on Wednesday announced that nearly 1,000 school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools, will receive about $100 million in grants to help students prepare to attend college.
The grants, which are available through the 2018–19 fiscal year, come from a $200 million College Readiness Block Grant program administered by the California Department of Education. The expenditure also was approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature.
The goal is to increase the number of students who enroll in college and complete a degree program in four years, with a special emphasis on helping English learners, low-income students, and foster youth.
Source: State department of education releases $100M in college-readiness grants
By Richard Bammer
Educators want it; local taxpayer groups don’t: Proposition 55, the Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare initiative.
One 17 state initiatives on the crowded Nov. 8 ballot, it extends by 12 years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings of more than $250,000. The money would be disbursed to K-12 schools, California community colleges, and, in certain years, to health-care programs.
The measure would essentially extend 2012’s Proposition 30, which sent billions of dollars to the state’s 1,000 school districts, among other funding recipients, including public safety.
Source: Educators, most voters support Proposition 55; taxpayer groups don’t – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Many parents, including Vacaville Unified trustees, California educators, and state and federal legislators from both sides of the political aisle support Proposition 51, but, as expected, major statewide anti-tax groups do not.
If approved by voters Nov. 8, the K-12 School and Community College Facilities initiative, the first of its kind on a California ballot, authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new buildings and upgrades to the state’s 10,000 K-12 schools, including 1,100 charter schools, vocational education facilities, and the state’s 113 community colleges. California has some 6.2 million students in K-12 schools and some 2.1 million enrolled in community colleges, the largest such systems of their kind in the nation.
The initiative’s fiscal impact, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, would be about $17.6 billion to pay off the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. It would generate payments of $500 million annually for 35 years.
Source: Wide swatch of voters support Proposition 51; anti-tax groups do not
By John Fensterwald
With Gov. Jerry Brown vowing to cut $6 billion in funding to K–12 schools and community colleges if they didn’t approve a temporary tax increase, voters in 2012 passed Proposition 30, raising the state sales tax and personal income tax on the wealthiest Californians.
Now, Californians are being asked to extend for a dozen years a slightly modified version of the tax, generating roughly the same amount of revenue, depending on economic conditions, under a new name, Proposition 55. Only this time, supporters must make the case without the governor’s help. Brown is staying neutral, saying in a state budget press conference in May, “I said it was temporary when I started, when I got Prop. 30 passed — and I think I’ll leave it there.”
Education funding isn’t as dire as it was four years ago, pre-Prop. 30. But advocates say continuing the revenue is essential for education because many school districts are barely above the funding levels they were at before the Great Recession.
Source: Prop. 55: Initiative to extend income tax increases to benefit schools | EdSource
By Annabelle Gardner
On Sunday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1299, “Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services for Foster Youth,” into law. This represents a significant turning point in the delivery of mental health services to foster youth in California: “out-of-county” will no longer mean “out-of-luck.” The passage of AB 1299 also demonstrates what’s possible when advocates, providers, administrators, and legislators collaborate to break down barriers to care for children and youth.
The “out-of-county” problem has plagued the children’s mental health system in California for nearly two decades–leaving as many as 13,000 of the state’s most vulnerable youth without equal access to the mental health care they need. AB 1299 eliminates a key barrier to mental health care for these youth: the law shifts responsibility for providing or arranging for specialty mental health services under Medi-Cal from the county where a foster youth entered care to the county where the child resides. The law also ensures that Medi-Cal funding will follow the child so that any net change in costs to each county will be reimbursed through the regular Realignment process. Finally, the law allows for exceptions to the transfer of responsibility in order to assure continuity of care or improve child welfare outcomes.
Source: Governor Signs AB 1299: “Out-of-County” Will No Longer Mean “Out-of-Luck” for Foster Youth with Mental Health Needs – New America Media
By Richard Bammer
Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this week signed a law that requires schools that serve students from grades seven to 12 to adopt suicide-prevention policies beginning next year.
The bill, Assembly Bill 2246, by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to develop and maintain a model suicide-prevention policy.
“With this change, we can better identify students in need, get them help, and keep them safe,” Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, said in a press release issued Tuesday. “One of my top priorities is serving the needs of the whole child, including their mental health needs. This bill is a big step forward in our ongoing efforts to help our students.”
Source: Gov. Brown signs student suicide prevention bill
By Daily Republic Staff
The Solano County Office of Education is one step closer to building a new special education campus at the site of Irene Larsen Educational Center in Vacaville.
“The current plan is to tear down the current buildings and build a new building at the (site),” said Tommy Welch, associate superintendent of administrative services and operations for the county agency.
All the special education classrooms will be placed in a single building with one entry point for added security, Welch said. The plans will be submitted to the Division of the State Architect for review, after which a pre-bid budget for the project will be established.
Source: Law helps with Solano special education center project
By Richard Bammer
The possibility of juvenile court youths to receive a high school diploma got a littler easier Thursday, when Gov. Brown signed into law AB 2306 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D Solano.
The new law requires school districts to exempt a student from local high school graduation requirements once the student transfers to the district from a juvenile court school.
“By allowing these students to earn a diploma after meeting statewide graduation requirements, this bill increases their likelihood of continuing their education and getting ready for the workforce while simultaneously decreasing their chances of recidivism,” Frazier said in a press release.
Existing law authorizes local school districts to establish graduation requirements in addition to statewide requirements.
Source: Brown signs Frazier bill allowing juvenile court students to earn diploma
Governor Jerry Brown Thursday signed into law legislation by Senator Lois Wolk, D-Solano, to protect public agencies from fraud and enable the Solano County Office of Education to modernize and construct new facilities at a local special education center.
Wolk’s Senate Bill 441 responded to a shortcoming in current law that resulted in the City of Dixon falling victim to a scheme attempting to defraud the city of $1.3 million, an intended payment to a legitimate vendor with which the city contracts.
“This measure balances the public’s right to information about the contractors, vendors, and their affiliates hired by public agencies with the need to prevent the misuse of those entities’ identification information to defraud public agencies,” said Wolk.
Investigations of the scam targeting the City of Dixon revealed that the perpetrators developed their scheme using public information available online — including the unique identification number the city used for the vendor.
Source: Governor signs measures benefitting Solano County
Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Saturday AB 1719, a law that requires hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instruction, along with Automated External Defibrillator awareness in high school health classes, an American Heart Association spokeswoman said.
California is the 35th state to provide CPR training in schools, along with Washington, D.C., spokeswoman Robin Swanson said. State Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez (D-Pomona) authored the bill.
Source: CPR Training Now Mandatory In High School Health Classes In California – Dixon, CA Patch
Gov. Jerry Brown berated the manufacturer of a life-saving emergency allergy treatment on Friday for price gouging, even as he signed legislation to make it easier for afterschool programs, daycare centers, colleges and businesses to obtain the treatment.
The pharmaceutical company Mylan raised the price of a two-pack of Epi-Pen epinephrine auto-injectors from $100 in 2008 to more than $600 today, Brown wrote in his signing message. Epi-Pens, which reportedly face little competition in the market, deliver a dose of epinephrine to counteract anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that includes difficulty breathing.
“State government cannot stop unconscionable price increases but it can shed light on such rapacious corporate behavior,” Brown’s message said.
Source: Governor signs emergency allergy medicine legislation but rebukes Epi-Pen price hikes | EdSource
By Richard Bammer
Lack of accountability and transparency at California charter schools is hurting students, a group of state officials, educators, civil rights leaders said Thursday, noting that a new law awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature that will require all charter schools to be open to greater public scrutiny.
In a national media teleconference, Assemblyman Mike Gipson, D-Carson, the author of Assembly Bill 709, said some of the state’s 1,200 charter schools fail to make financial and administrative records open to the public, in violation of the law.
“They cannot be excused from accountability,” he said.
The bill would increase transparency and accountability to parents and to disclose how the schools spend taxpayer money, including budgets and contracts. Additionally, it prohibits charter school board members and their families from profiting from their schools, and requires charter schools to comply with California’s open meetings, open records and conflict-of-interest laws.
Source: Law to increase charter school accountability awaits governor’s signature – The Reporter
The Legislature has less than three weeks to act on important remaining education bills. Many of the major education bills that were introduced at the start of the year, such as teacher evaluation reforms, either have died or, like more money for college preparatory courses, been incorporated into next year’s state budget. Of a dozen noteworthy bills still alive when the Legislature went on vacation in July, several were killed without explanation by the Assembly and Senate Appropriations committees in a crush of activity last week. Here’s a status report on nine of the survivors and three of the deceased.
Updated on Aug. 16 with a correction for AB 1426.
Ban on for-profit virtual charter schools
AB 1084, by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would ban for-profit companies from operating online charter schools. In an effort to also ban for-profit online companies from setting up nonprofit affiliates, the bill also would prevent a nonprofit online charter school from contracting with a for-profit entity that provides instructional services.
Source: Key education bills still alive – and some that aren’t | EdSource
By Louis Freedberg
California is on the verge of finalizing what leading educators believe is the most ambitious attempt in the nation to use multiple dimensions to measure how well – or poorly – a school or district is doing, rather than focusing primarily on test scores.
“All across the country people are paying attention to what California is doing,” Linda Darling-Hammond, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, said at a recent California School Boards Association conference.
The deadline for approving the plan is barely two months away, as required by a state law championed by Gov. Jerry Brown that implemented the Local Control Funding Formula, which reformed both the way schools are funded and how progress will be measured.
The state’s goal has been to come up with a system that will require schools and districts to measure how they are doing on eight “priority areas“ ranging from test scores to less definable measures such as school climate.
Source: As deadline looms, California struggles to finalize new school accountability system | EdSource