Did your legislator stand up for public education?
A year of big legislative changes ends with some big wins for local governance
There was a prominent local governance theme throughout the 2013 legislative session. From the passage of the Local Control Funding Formula, the most significant change in school funding in decades, to bills trying to redefine student and teacher discipline, the legislature has struggled with Gov. Jerry Brown’s push for subsidiarity in California government—the principle that political power should be exercised by the unit of government closest to the people wherever possible.
CSBA also unveiled its Governance First legislative agenda this year. We were successful in influencing legislators—and legislation—to support strong and effective local governance.
The Local Control Funding Formula was part of the 2013-14 state budget. CSBA supported the LCFF proposal and pursued significant improvements to it dating back to the governor’s initial proposal in January 2012. CSBA’s efforts to convince the governor and Legislature to restore funding to pre-recession levels, create LCFF grants with grade-level differentiation, and focus all career technical education funds as an add-on to the grade 9-12 base grant were all adopted.
LCFF is the most significant reform to California’s school finance system since the Serrano-Priest decision in 1971. It provides significant authority to school districts to implement efforts that work for their students.
There were however, attempts to lessen the local authority granted under LCFF. Senate Bill 344 (Padilla, D-Pacoima), for example, was an attempt to preemptively reintroduce top-down restrictions on funding by burdening districts with additional compliance requirements on reporting and tracking of funds and mandates for English learners. CSBA actively fought the bill, suggesting instead that many of the issues addressed would be part of the public adoption process of each Local Control and Accountability Plan. The governor ended up vetoing the bill and reaffirming his principal of subsidiarity. This was truly a victory for local governance.
Another Governance First priority was to continue to increase the buy-down of deferred apportionments to schools. Deferrals stood at $9.5 billion just two years ago but are now down to $5.6 billion with the adoption of the 2013-14 Budget Act. CSBA advocated early and hard for growth in the Proposition 98 guarantee to be used for additional deferral buy-down, and this was included in the Budget Act. CSBA continues to fight to get all local educational agencies’ funding fully restored.
CSBA also had successes using budget “trailer bills” as vehicles for change as part of its Governance First agenda. The first success was CSBA’s work to modify the Behavioral Intervention Plan mandate by eliminating state laws and regulations for BIP that exceed federal law, except as the interventions relate to emergencies and to prohibitions on certain interventions. This change will lessen by at least $50 million annually the costs to school districts for state-mandated services that go above and beyond those required by federal law. Through budget trailer bill language it advocated, CSBA’s Governmental Relations team was successful in getting the mandate eliminated from this point forward.
CSBA also supported modifications to the interest rates and terms of loans that come with emergency apportionments to school districts in financial crisis. CSBA advocated changing how emergency loans are structured because of the exorbitant interest rates involved. Modifications to loans issued to Inglewood Unified School District and South Monterey County Joint Union High School District were included in two education trailer bills. Although this does not provide precedence for future loans, it is a step in the right direction for districts currently trying to work their way out of emergency apportionment loans. The removal of the BIP mandate and the changes to emergency apportionment loans both help ease financial constraints on LEAs—and, in the case of emergency apportionments, will speed districts back to full local governance.
Although not specifically in the Governance First agenda, Assembly Bill 375 (Buchanan, D-Alamo) was a direct threat to effective local governance and public safety in the teacher dismissal process. AB 375 would have set time limits for commencing and completing the process for dismissing a teacher, added procedural steps that defense counsel could use to delay, and limited the number of depositions and amendments of charges. These changes would have made it harder for local education agencies to prove grounds for dismissal. LEAs would have been forced to settle, refile charges and possibly even ask children to relive abuse in testimony, or return the teacher to the classroom. CSBA attempted to work with the author, but in the end had to oppose the bill and seek a veto with an aggressive advocacy and media campaign.
It paid off. CSBA is pleased that the governor chose to veto AB 375, protecting the safety of California’s schoolchildren and ensuring that LEAs are able to dismiss bad teachers without additional delays.
Governmental Relations staff has compiled a table of key votes on some of the most important education-related legislation of 2013. Included are the three bills CSBA sponsored—two held in the Assembly and one was “gut-and-amended” into a different bill which CSBA no longer sponsors—and others that the accompanying summaries explain. The votes used for the table are floor votes only, except in the cases of AB 1032 (Gordon), which did not make it to the floor in its house of origin.
It is important to remember that this is the first year of a two-year session, and many bills that did not make it through the legislative process in 2013 can be resurrected in 2014. Also, these votes only show a snapshot in time and cannot capture the full range of a lawmaker’s attitudes and actions; however, readers can use this data to review their legislators’ records on bills that will affect local school boards’ work in the year ahead.
Dennis Meyers (email@example.com) is CSBA’s assistant executive director for Governmental Relations.
CSBA’s Governmental Relations Department identified 10 key bills affecting K-12 education from the past year. The bill numbers, authors, titles and summaries below also include CSBA’s position and the legislative advocate on staff who worked each bill.
AB 182 (Buchanan): Bonds: school districts and community college districts
Limits the ratio of total debt service to principal for capital appreciation bonds to 4:1. Also requires: (1) additional disclosures for bond sales that include CABs; (2) CABs to be eligible for refinancing after 10 years; and (3) governing boards to make a finding that the useful life of a facility is equal to or exceeds the maturity date of a bond with a term greater than 30 years. The bill was signed into law.
CSBA position: Disapprove | Advocate: Rivas
AB 375 (Buchanan): School employees: dismissal or suspension: hearing
Would have revised the process for dismissal and suspension of certificated school employees by imposing a seven-month time limit for completion of an employee-requested hearing, limiting the number of depositions and amendments of charges, revising procedures for the hearing, and allowing a certificated employee to challenge a suspension. The bill was vetoed by the governor.
CSBA position: Oppose | Advocate: Rivas
AB 420 (Dickinson): Pupil discipline: suspensions: willful defiance
Would limit the authority of a school district superintendent and school principal by only allowing a student enrolled in any of grades 6-12 to be suspended, but not expelled, for willful defiance on or after the third offense in a school year, provided other specified correction measures were attempted before the recommendation to suspend. The bill will continue to be developed in 2014.
CSBA position: Neutral | Advocate: Hoffman
AB 484 (Bonilla): Pupil assessments: Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress
Suspends the current California Standards Tests for the 2013-14 school year and establishes the California Measurement of Academic Performance and Progress, which succeeds the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, and specifies procedures and policies for MAPP. This measure also directs the state superintendent of public instruction to develop a plan for implementation of subject area assessments not required by the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, while also preserving alternative performance assessments until new Common Core-based assessments are available. The bill was signed into law.
CSBA position: Support | Advocate: Hoffman
AB 913 (Chau): Charter schools
Would apply the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, and Government Code Section 1090, which prohibits contracting between board members and the agency they govern, to charter schools. The bill is currently in the Senate Education Committee.
CSBA position: Co-sponsor | Advocate: Rivas
AB 1032 (Gordon): Charter schools: facilities
Would prohibit the displacement of district students in favor of charter school students in the provision of reasonably equivalent facilities to charter schools. Would also limit comparisons of space available to districts and charters to useable space only, among other changes. The bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
CSBA position: Sponsor | Advocate: Rivas
SB 49 (Lieu): School safety plans
Would require each school to adopt or review and update its comprehensive school safety plan every three years and would add as a required component of the plan procedures related to individuals with guns on school campuses and at school-related functions, including but not limited to training programs related to active shooters and active terrorists. The bill is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
CSBA position: Support and seek amendments | Advocate: Ball
SB 344 (Padilla): Schools
Proposed adding parent representatives to a committee that assists in the development of standards and criteria to be used by LEAs for specified fiscal management purposes. This bill also proposed an audit of a school district to include whether expenditures were made in proportion with the monies apportioned based on the number and concentration of unduplicated pupils. The bill was vetoed by the governor.
CSBA position: Oppose | Advocate: Hoffman
SB 744 (Lara): Pupils: involuntary transfer: county community schools and community day schools
Proposed revising who may be involuntarily enrolled in a county community school, removing homeless children and limiting certain probation referrals, and requiring a parent or guardian’s consent for the enrollment of a pupil who was referred by recommendation of a school attendance review board. The bill also proposed giving these pupils the right to re-enroll in their school district of residence and to not be denied readmission based on additionally imposed criteria beyond the terms stated in the initial or subsequent expulsion order. The bill was vetoed by the governor.
CSBA position: Neutral | Advocate: Hoffman
SCA 3 (Leno): Taxation: educational entities: parcel tax (original version)
The original version of the bill would have lowered the voter threshold to 55 percent for the imposition, extension or increase of a parcel tax by a school district, community college district or county office of education. The bill was amended by Senate leadership to deal with another topic.
CSBA position: None (now tracking the amended version) | Advocate: Ball
Additional resources on legislative bills are available at www.csba.org/PositionsOnLegislation, where you can also track the progress of bills through the 2014 legislative session.