Friday was the deadline for Legislators to introduce legislation in 2015. Legislators are not unlike students in that many of them waited until the last minute to turn in their legislative package. There was a deluge of new bills introduced Thursday and Friday. We’ve gone through all of them and want to provide you with a rundown of what we see as some of the key K-12 education measures. This is admittedly difficult to do because so many of the bills are in “spot bill” form, meaning the bill language is either vague or simply states intent to put in more substantive language later. But based on our conversations with Legislators, Capitol staff, and our school advocate colleagues we’ve compiled a list of some of the key K-12 education measures introduced in 2015.
ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Stricter LCAPs – There are a number of spot bills targeting the Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs). Many Democrats in the Legislature would like to require more oversight regarding the use of LCFF dollars (particularly those associated with ELs, low income, and foster pupils). While this will be an interesting conversation, we don’t think the Governor is ready to make any changes to LCFF accountability.
CAHSEE Suspension – A bill by Senate Education Committee Chair Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) would suspend the administration of the high school exit exam and remove it as a condition of graduation for the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 school years. The bill also asks the State Superintendent to convene a panel of experts and make recommendations to the Legislature regarding alternatives.
CAREER TECHNICAL EDUCATION (CTE)
Rebuilding CTE – There are a remarkable number of spot bills in the area of CTE. Assembly Education Committee Chair Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) has a few that are worth watching. Senator Mike McGuire (D-Santa Rosa) has a bill to fund CTE at $600 million (the Governor has proposed $250 million).
Open Meetings, etc. – There are two bills taking on the years-long effort to require charter schools to adhere to certain requirements like Brown Act (open meetings), Public Records, and conflict of interest policies.
Suspension and Expulsion – Senator Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill to would require charter schools to comply with suspension and expulsion laws, including notifying the district superintendent of the reason for a student’s departure from the school.
· SB 322 (Leno): Charter Schools: Pupils: Suspension and Expulsion
Charter School Governance/Site Location – Senator Pavley’s (D-Agoura Hills) bill requests the State Superintendent study the number of charter schools that are located outside the boundaries of the authorizing school district.
· SB 739 (Pavely): Charter Schools: Sited Outside Boundaries: Report
CURRICULUM & INSTRUCTION
English Learner Reclassification – The issue of how and when students are reclassified as English proficient will be a high priority for the State Senate this year as their leader, Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), has introduced a bill on the subject.
PE Minutes – Assembly Member Gomez (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a bill that would provide a process to resolve potential disputes regarding compliance with the requirement to provide a specific amount of instructional time (200 minutes each 10 schooldays) in Physical Education for elementary school students. The bill is intended to prevent the practice of filing large numbers of lawsuits related to this Education Code provision, which have recently resulted in significant attorney’s fees awards.
Sexual Assault Training for High Schools – Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon has successfully pushed for stricter laws around sexual assault on college campuses and he wants to bring that to the state’s high schools. His bill would require schools that teach health class to add curriculum about sexual violence.
Expanding State Preschool – Assembly Budget Subcommittee Chair Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) is expected to push hard for expanded Preschool. McCarty previously served as a legislative advocate for one of the major early learning advocacy organizations and it is something he feels passionate about.
· AB 47 (McCarty): State Preschool Program: Report
Adequate Time to Eat – The issue of eating time is back, Assembly Member Miguel Santiago’s (D-Los Angeles) would require students are given an adequate time to eat after being served lunch. Assembly Member Bonta (D-Alameda) introduced AB 1240 to require school districts and county offices of education that meet certain threshold of needy children to provide breakfast.
Clean Drinking Water – Two bills have been introduced on the subject. SB 334 by Senator Leyva (D-Fontana) requires school districts to provide free, fresh, clean, and cold drinking water to students during meal times. AB 496 by Assembly Member Rendon (D-Lakewood) would allocate state or federal funds received by the CDE to school districts to provide access to drinking water.
TEACHER TRAINING AND EVALUATION
BTSA – In his January Budget Proposal, Governor Brown noted that teacher induction programs (such as BTSA) were not consistently available to all teachers and that some LEAs charged fees for beginning teachers to participate in these programs. The Governor proposed having the CTC study the issue, but AB 141 by Assembly Member Bonilla (D-Concord) would simply prohibit LEAs from charging such fees to teachers.
· AB 141 (Bonilla): Teacher Credentialing: Beginning Teacher Induction
Teacher Evaluation – The Vergara case dealing with teacher tenure and other teacher employment issues has led to increased focus on teacher evaluations, and a number of bills have been introduced related to this topic by legislators. Legislation on this topic have been introduced by both Chairs of the Educations Committees, the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, and the Assembly Republican leader. Expect a lot of activity related to this issue and these bills.
2016 School Facilities Bond – The biggest question in the school facilities arena is whether the Legislature will pass a bill placing a school facilities bond on the 2016 ballot. A number of legislators are carrying spot bills related to a facilities bond. It remains to be seen whether any of these measure will gain traction or whether a bond will be placed on the ballot through the initiative signature gathering process. Just to be safe, Assembly Member Holden (D-Pasadena) also has AB 1372, which expresses the intent of the Legislature to provide a long-term solution to funding for school construction and modernization without reference to a bond or any other revenue source.
Door Locks and Synthetic Turf – Other facilities bills likely to attract attention include a bill requiring classroom door locks for student safety and another bill requiring a study of the potential adverse health impacts of synthetic turf.
Open Enrollment/Residency – There are a remarkable number of bills addressing the issue of a students’ ability to attend schools other than those in the neighborhood where they live.
Home-to-School Transportation COLA – There continues to be an effort to provide a COLA to transportation funding provided under LCFF. This is contentious issue because the current funding for transportation is based on an old formula and many districts don’t receive funds under the old formula. Senator Vidak’s (R-Hanford) bill looks like an attempt to collect additional data regarding the use of transportation funds around the state.
Unemployment Insurance – A bill by Assembly Member Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) is a repeat of a bill from last year that would allow employees to receive unemployment benefits between school years.
Sick Leave – Two sick leave bills to watch include Senator Jackson’s (D-Santa Barbara) SB 579, which would allow sick leave to be used to address childcare or school emergencies and Assembly Member Gonzalez (D-San Diego) introduced a spot bill related to sick leave, AB 304.
Permanent Status and Reduction in Force – A number of bills authored by Republicans addressing tenure and reduction in force issues. The bill to watch is AB 753 by Assembly Member Medina (D-Riverside).
STRS Creditable Service – As a growing number of STRS audits and court cases related to those audits have highlighted, there is a lack of clarity around creditable service in STRS. Assembly Member Bonilla (D-Concord) has a bill that attempts to clarify the issue.
Vaccinations – Probably one of the most high profile bills this year will be around the issue of the right of parents to currently exempt their child from vaccination requirements for “personal belief” reasons. Senator Pan (D-Sacramento) is a Pediatrician.
Medi-Cal Data Sharing – There is a bill to allow county mental health plans to contract with LEAs to provide services for Medi-Cal eligible pupils under EPSDT.
Legislation to Leverage State Budget Issues – While most major school finance issues are addressed in the Budget Act and related “trailer bill” legislation, a number of bills have been introduced to address funding for specific purposes. Many of these bills are meant to focus attention on these issues and leverage potential solutions through the budget process.
School District Budget Reserve Cap – There are also a couple of Republican bills that would repeal the local budget reserve cap enacted with the 2014-15 Budget Act, and a Democratic bill (AB 646) that might revise the cap provisions. Expect a lot of activity related to these bills.
Pupil Fees – Senator Lara’s (D-Bell Gardens) bill will revisit the issue of pupil fees. The bill is currently a spot bill, but look for more substantive language next month.
Minimum Wage – Senator Leno’s (D-San Francisco) minimum wage bill will attract broad attention from advocates for both employers and workers. The bill would increase the state’s minimum wage to $11 in 2016 and $13 in 2017. Beginning in 2019, the bill would require automatic increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.
Bullying – In a continued effort to curb bullying in schools, Assembly Member Christina Garcia (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill aimed at expanding upon the current definition of “electronic act” with regards to an act of bullying.
Legal Age to Smoke – Senator Ed Hernandez (D-Covina) has introduced a bill that would extend the “Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act” to persons under 21 years of age.
- On March 4, 2015