LAUSD Office of Legislative & Governmental Affairs
July 31, 2008
News: The Budget
It is now a guessing game on when to expect a vote on the budget bill, Assembly Bill 1781, with expectation being that it will take place this or next week. However, nobody really knows when anything of significance is going to happen… something could happen in an hour, next week, or weeks from now.
At this point, we have covered the Governor’s Proposed Budget, then the May Revision, and last month there was a recap of all up to that point. Rather than continually reiterate the same, now we’re hearing more regarding the “climate” of the discussions. The State Legislature is supposed to be on a summer recess until August 4th according to its calendar, but because of the budgetary situation, they really have not gone on a break.
Legislators continue to work in anticipation of a bi-partisan agreement on the State Budget, which is presently on the floors of both houses. So far, we have heard how the Republicans began the process steadfastly insisting there should be cutting of spending rather than levying of taxes, and how the Democrats favored the opposite. Presently, there has been talk that this mood has changed, and that now there has been more of an acceptance of the idea of expanding the sales tax base. Regardless, the clock is ticking, and the month of August is critical because this is when cash flow becomes more of an issue.
Everyone is now aware of the Governor’s cutting state workers’ pay to minimum wage until the passage of the budget; in fact, he signed just today Executive Order S-09-08 to halt payments to vendors for this fiscal year, and withhold payroll to state workers (in addition to other items) until the budget passes. Understandably, this has created an uproar, and State Controller John Chiang has publicly said he will not be complying with the Order.
Many believe the Governor’s action is to pressure lawmakers to finish work on the budget. Additionally, lawmakers are being further influenced by their constituents. Major educational organizations and unions are encouraging their membership to contact their local representatives to vote for the budget bill. Statewide notices have gone out from the State PTA and California School Employees Association.
Our district lobbying effort has remained the same, exemplified by our shift from emphasizing the effects of cuts to promoting what we estimate is a good budget proposal as put forth in Assembly Bill 1781.
Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Is DC’s No. 1 Issue
Staff from the Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs (OLGA) spent a few meeting-packed days in discussions with Congressional and governmental relations staffs of the following committee and organizations:
• Congressional Education and Labor Committee: Separate meetings with chief
Democratic and Republican consultants
• National Education Association (NEA)
• National Parent Teachers Association (PTA)
• National School Boards Association (NSBA)
• Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
• American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
• Council of Great Cities Schools (CGCS)
• Office of Congressman Xavier Becerra
• Office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters
It was an informative and productive time, and the following is a summation of discussions had with the individuals from the above list: Federal funding will remain at present levels because of the weak economy. Also, the war in Iraq continues to draw heavy expenditures away from education and health and human service needs. Some organizations, specifically AASA, are seeking a complete new enactment of NCLB without reference to existing law.
Also, individual lobbying efforts are emphasizing the need to no longer refer to the reauthorized legislation as NCLB, and to start using Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as the title.
Within the reauthorization, the contentious issue that has arisen is pay for performance. NEA is adamantly opposed while Congressional members, including leading Democrats, are pressing for some type of pay for performance to be included in the ESEA reauthorization. Congressional staff members are interested in the collection and use of student testing data and its applicability to ESEA reauthorization. The level of sophistication of data collection, to the level of individual classroom student performance, is being linked to pay for performance proposals.
Staff of the National PTA office is focusing on the parent engagement provisions of the ESEA reauthorization. The discussion with these staff members extended to the potential for incorporating parent education as a component along with engagement. OLGA is sending the PTA staff copies of the curriculum that is used in adult education parent education courses to support the parent’s role with their children’s education.
While meeting with the Education and Labor Committee staff, OLGA staff was made aware of their plans to have Richard Simmons, notable exercise and fitness proponent, testify on the present problem of obesity in today’s K-12 schools. Subsequently, the news coverage and testimony by Simmons in essence emphasized that youth physical activities are being minimized or nonexistent because of the pressures to have academic performance as driven by NCLB.
Federal Issues of Interest
Child Nutrition – We expect the child nutrition law to be reauthorized in 2009. In preparation,District staff developed priorities for inclusion in a new bill. Areas of concern include:
• Eligibility, access, and funding improvements
• Nutritional standards
• Competitive food sales
• Technology and innovation advancement
• Commodity food program
• Mealtime management
We are working with other entities to encourage Congressional support for a measure to give USDA authority to set national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages available outside of school meal programs anywhere on campus during the school day.
Definition of Homelessness – Approximately 75% of the homeless children and youth in Los Angeles do not qualify for Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assistance because of a narrow definition of homelessness. That provision disallows services to families and youth who are temporarily staying in the housing of others because they have nowhere else to go or in a motel. We met with Congresswoman Water’s staff and allied organizations in gaining support for the Homeless Children and Youth amendment to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act reauthorization legislation, which would align the HUD definition with the education definition of homelessness. The measure is in the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, chaired by Rep. Waters.
Poison Pill Removed from Foreclosure Prevention Act – The Foreclosure Prevention Act, signed by the President on July 30, created a new standard deduction for homeowners who do not itemize their deductions on their federal income tax filings. Single persons who do not itemize will be able to deduct up to $500 of their property tax bills, and families will be able to deduct $1,000. The legislation earlier contained a provision that the deduction would be available only if the local jurisdiction did not raise its property tax rate between April 2008 and December 2009. That would have had negative implications on homeowners within the LAUSD and any other school district that approved or sold bonds or certificates of participation, and could have adversely affected support for the November bond. The LAUSD joined with allied organizations in successfully opposing this provision. It was stripped from the final version of the bill.
Higher Education Act Passed by Congress – On July 31 both houses of Congress passed a compromise bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act for the first time in ten years. The measure includes provisions to simplify and increase post-secondary grants, consolidates three teacher education programs, and raises the standards for teacher education programs. The President is expected to sign the measure.
Legislation – Priority Bills
At this point in the legislative process, the Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs (OLGA) has turned its focus to “priority” bills. All bills introduced are initially reviewed for applicability and pertinence to education and LAUSD, and this may well be more than five thousand bills. The OLGA often tracks more than one thousand in any given year. As time passes over the course of the legislative calendar many bills never make it to the final steps of the process – whether on account of being pulled by the author, failing to pass Committees, or being vetoed by the Governor. Priority bills still alive and sponsored (or co-sponsored) by LAUSD are:
AB 2077 (Fuentes) – The California English language development test. This bill would require the annual assessment of the California English language development test (CELDT) to be conducted during a 3-month test period commencing with the day upon which 65% of the instructional year is completed. The bill would require the State Department of Education to biennially release sample questions from the CELDT for the purpose of instruction and to provide the score a pupil achieves on the CELDT to the parent or guardian of the pupil in English and, if available, in the language reported on the home language survey. The bill would require that the score be provided in a format that utilizes terminology that is easy to understand and includes an explanation of the purpose of the test, the pupil's score, and the intended use of that score by the school district.
SB 658 (Romero) – School facilities. This bill shall exempt a school district from increasing school building capacity by the number of pupils reported by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Office of Public School Construction for that grade level pursuant to Section 42268 starting with the 2007-2008 enrollment year. In addition, the bill proposes to reduce the level of funding under the Operational grant Program by 20% each year beginning in 2008-09 FY and transferring those funds to the California Department of Education to administer the charter school facility program pursuant to SB 740, per the Governor’s veto message.
SB 1369 (Cedillo) – Pupil nutrition: free and reduced-price means: application. This bill will allow school districts that have knowledge of an active Medi-Cal case for a child to suppress that application at the school’s option. This would have the effect of expediting Express Enrollment in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families for many students, providing them with much needed healthcare services. Forty to Eighty percent of the applications for Medi-Cal received from school districts by counties are for children who already have active Medi-Cal cases. Implementing a procedure to limit the number of these applications forwarded to the county for processing will significantly decrease resource outlays required by counties. The result of this improved process would enable counties, especially large ones such as Los Angeles, to accelerate and increase capacity for student enrollment.
AB 2056 (De Leon) – English learners: California High School Exit Examination. This bill would authorize school districts to use the funds apportioned pursuant to these provisions to provide the intensive instruction and services also to pupils who are enrolled in grade 10, 11, or 12 and have failed one of both parts of the high school exit examination and to pupils who are enrolled in grade 9 and are at risk of not passing one or both portions of the high school exit examination. The bill would specify the order of priority for providing this intensive instruction and services to these additional pupils.
AB 1163 (Krekorian) – Adult Education. This bill increases the cap on adult education entitlement expenditures for approved distance learning programs, as defined, from five percent to fifteen percent. Proposed amendments have been discussed with the Department of Finance would add language that will ensure the accountability of these alternate delivery programs.
B 2390 (Karnette) – State teachers’ retirement: postretirement earnings. This bill would extend current exemptions from retiree earning limits until June 30, 2010. The recruitment of experienced teachers and school administrators to fill vacant classroom and administrative positions, particularly in Deciles1-3 schools, continues to be a challenge for school districts. Despite targeted efforts to recruit highly qualified teachers, there continues to be a shortage of credentialed teachers in math, science and special education. In order to comply with the staffing requirements of the Williams settlement and other state and No Child Left Behind mandates, school districts must take action to ensure that schools are staffed with fully credentialed, experienced teachers and school administrators, particularly in Deciles1-3 schools.
AB 2002 (DeLeon) – Public works: payments. This bill proposes doubling the penalties levied against those contractors or subcontractors who violate the prevailing wage laws under Labor Code Sections 1775 and 1776. Additionally, the bill would hold the contractor liable for violations made by the subcontractor if the contractor had knowledge or should have known of the subcontractor’s negligence.
Assembly Education Chair to be Santa Monica/Los Angeles Legislator Early this month, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass appointed Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica) as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee for the next two-year cycle of state legislation beginning January 2009. The Assembly Education Committee has the responsibility of judging and acting on the policy implications of legislation affecting education. Assembly Member Brownley brings an experienced background to the Education Committee as evidenced by having served 12 years on the Board of Education of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. Also, for the past two years Ms. Brownley has chaired the Assembly’s Budget Subcommittee on Education. Ms. Brownley’s field of employment is in Marketing Management. On an added note, Los Angeles Assembly Member Kevin de Leon will be the Chairman of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, meaning that both policy and fiscal committees affecting education will be chaired by legislators representing parts of our school district.
State Board of Education Acts on Algebra Requirement, NCLB Corrective Action Plans, District’s ROC/P Waiver, and Charter School Appeal At its meetings on Wednesday, July 9th and Thursday, July 10th, the State Board of Education took action on a number of substantive items as described as follows:
• No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Corrective Action Plans: The Board officially received the corrective plans of the State’s program improvement districts, of which Los Angeles is one. California Department of Education (CDE) staff reported to the Board that the 53 school districts required to submit plans did so. Between now and the September State Board of Education meeting, CDE staff will review the plans and present their recommendations. State Superintendent Jack O’Connell and Board members discussed the related necessity to pass legislation allowing for the expenditure of $19 million in federal funds to support the corrective action efforts. To date legislation has not passed because of the differences between Senate Leader Don Perata and the Governor on the policy issue of how much discretion the State Board of Education may have in determining the corrective actions of school districts.
• Algebra 1 Test Requirement: Pursuant to a directive from the Governor, the State Board of Education approved the policy that will require 8th graders in California to be tested on Algebra 1 to comply with NCLB testing requirements. The directive was a surprise to interested parties that had been working on the policy, and thought they had consensus on an alternative option focusing on Algebra Readiness.
• District’s Regional Occupational Centers/Programs (ROC/P) Waiver: The Board approved the District’s waiver request to delay for one year the implementation of Assembly Bill 2448’s requirement that its ROC/P high school:adult student ratio be 70:30 percent.
• Board Denies Appeal of Charter School Revocation: Today’s Fresh Start Charter School’s appeal to overturn its revocation by the Los Angeles County Board of Education was denied. This action sends the interesting signal that this State Board is not providing a blanket approval to overturn charter school revocations by local school districts and county offices of education. Also, it needs to be noted that this Board has at least two members who are major charter supporters and operators.
Fifth Legislative Liaison Meeting Held by the Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs on Friday, July 11, 2008
With the best attendance to date, 35, the 5th meeting of this group was held. In attendance were representatives from a cross-section of Board offices, District divisions, employee organizations including Administrators Association of Los Angeles (AALA), and parent groups. As a first, the governmental affairs office of the City of Los Angeles sent a representative (we believe that the city’s representation at these liaison meetings is important since the Mayor’s office is guiding the activities of 20,000 students through the partnership schools). As established, we started at 3:30 p.m., meeting in the A-level cafeteria, and ended promptly at 4:30 p.m.
The topics we covered included the following:
• State budget
• State Board of Education actions, inclusive of corrective action plans and Algebra testing
• District sponsored bills
• Appointment of Julia Brownley to Assembly Education Committee Chair • Appointment of Kevin de Leon as Chair of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee
Office staff member Alan Helfman also conducted an exercise on communicating, supporting, and sponsoring legislation. For our next meeting on Friday, August 1st, we are examining ways to have local district and charter school representation at these legislative liaison meetings.
To minimize scheduling conflicts with other District activities, these meetings are held on the first Friday of the month with a time certain starting at 3:30 p.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m. These meetings are open and invited parties include Board offices, parent groups, community representatives, certificated and classified unions, AALA, ACSA, and sectors of the District including Local Districts, Divisions, and major units.
Information on the meetings: When: First Friday of the Month August 1, September 5, October 3, November 7, and December 5
Where: Beaudry Building Cafeteria (A level) Time: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
August 4th: State Legislature Reconvenes and moves towards end of session work with August 31st as the ending date for legislative work. • August 6th: Superintendent and Parent Leaders to lobby legislature in Sacramento.
2008 State Legislative Calendar
· July 3 Summer Recess begins upon adjournment, provided Budget Bill has been passed (J.R. 51(b)(2))
· July 4 Independence Day observed
· August 4 Legislature reconvenes from Summer Recess (J.R. 51(b)(2))
· August 15 Last day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills to the Floor (J.R. 61(b)(14))
· August 18 - 31 Floor session only. No committees, other than conference committees and Rules Committee, may meet for any purpose (J.R. 61(b)(15)).
· August 22 Last day to amend bills on the Assembly floor (J.R. 61(b)(16))
· August 31 Last day for any bill to be passed (Art. IV, Sec. 10(c), (J.R. 61(b)(17))
· Final Recess begins upon adjournment (J.R. 51(b)(3))
· IMPORTANT DATES OCCURRING DURING FINAL RECESS 2008
· September 30 Last day for Governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before September 1 and in the Governor’s possession on or after September 1 (Art. IV, Sec.10(b)(2))
· November 4 General Election November 30 Adjournment Sine Die at midnight (Art. IV, Sec. 3(a))
· December 1 12 a.m. convening of the 2009-10 Regular Session (Art. IV, Sec. 3(a))
· 2009 January 1 Other than urgency measures, statutes passed in 2008 take effect (Art. IV, Sec. 8(c))