Last week’s Senate Education Committee was interesting for one main reason, Senators voted to advance legislation directly in conflict with the Governor’s priorities related to two major education issues: a 2016 state school facilities bond and career technical education (CTE).
School Bond Bill Advances – Democrats on the committee voted to advance the chair’s 2016 school bond bill, while the committee’s two Republicans abstained (Senators Vidak and Huff). Senator Liu amended SB 114 to apply only to K-12 schools by removing higher education facilities and to require the state agencies that oversee and administer state bond funds to develop an interagency plan to reduce program complexity. So far, the bill does not specify an amount for the bond, likely subject to continued political conversations. The bill now heads to the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance.
Senator Liu joins with many of us trying to overcome two serious challenges to a state school bond in 2016: 1) the Governor’s dislike of state school bonds, and 2) CTA’s push for a long term revenue solution for schools (think Prop 30 extension or tex reform). It’s anyone’s guess how you convince Governor Brown that state financing of school facilities is a good idea. A lot of smart people close to him have tried, so we’ll leave that as problem in search of a solution… Regarding CTA’s push for revenue, it is their top priority (at the end of the day, it is likely the entire education community’s top priority). CTA’s extremely sophisticated political operation has polled and focus-grouped the issue and there is a strong perception that two measures on the same ballot dealing with school finance increase the likelihood that both fail. We are all working to find a solution because we need both. We could see a “package” option develop that incorporates both school facilities and on-going revenue for school in a single ballot measure – but that could get legally questionable. Look for school bond bills to keep moving through the legislative process until the issue is resolved outside the Capitol.
CTE has a Bipartisan Support in Senate – By a unanimous and bipartisan vote of 8-0, the committee advanced newly-elected State Senator Mike McGuire’s (D-Healdsburg) bill to create a new $600 million CTE incentive grant program for K-12 schools. The bill is remarkable because it goes much further than the Governor’s proposal to create a short-term program that would provide $250 million in matching dollars for each of the next three years. The fact that Republicans are voting with Democrats to support the creation of new program costing more than half a billion dollars shows the broad support that exists for CTE. Ultimately, we believe the future of CTE will be resolved in the state budget negotiations sometime this summer, but this legislation highlights the stark contrast between the Governor and Legislature on the issue.
Legislators are on Spring Break this week, but Education Committee hearings will resume next Wednesday (April 8).
Following is a full review of the committee’s actions (titles are linked to the bill text):
SB 114 (Liu) Education facilities: K-12 Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016
Makes changes to the existing School Facility Program and authorizes the Kindergarten through Grade 12 Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2016 to provide for the issuance of an unspecified amount of general obligation bonds for construction and modernization of education facilities to become effective if approved by voters at the November 8, 2016 statewide general election.
Action: Passed as Amended 6-0
SB 138 (Fuller) Physical education: exemption: high school rodeo
Authorizes school districts to exempt high school students from physical education courses if the student is engaged in high school rodeo.
Action: Passed 6-0
SB 148 (McGuire) Career technical education: Career and Job Skills Education Act
Establishes the Career and Job Skills Education Act, a grant program administered by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for the purpose of developing and enhancing career technical education (CTE) courses within K-12 school districts and appropriates $600 million for this purpose. Amended in committee to extend eligibility for the grant program to County Offices of Education, direct-funded charter schools, and certain regional occupational programs.
Action: Passed as Amended 8-0
SB 232 (Hall) School accountability: California Collaborative for Educational Excellence: state administrator
Allows a state-appointed trustee or administrator of a school district in receivership to request the advice and assistance of the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence.
Action: Passed 8-0
SB 242 (Monning) School security: surplus military equipment
Requires a school district’s police department to obtain approval from its governing board prior to receiving federal surplus military equipment. Amended in committee to remove the requirement that written notice of what surplus equipment the school police department will receive be given to all parents.
Action: Passed as Amended 7-1
SB 247 (Lara) Dream Centers: educational support services
Authorizes the governing board of a school district or county office of education that maintain grades 9-12, the governing board of a California Community College district, and the trustees of the California State University and encourages the Regents of the University of California to establish on-campus Dream Centers for the purposes of providing educational support services applicable to undocumented students. Amended in committee to edit language to ensure that undocumented students’ needs are met.
Action: Passed as Amended 8-0
SB 252 (Leno) Pupils: diploma alternatives: fees
Prohibits a fee from being charged to homeless youth for the high school proficiency exam and the high school equivalency tests. Amended in committee to (1) cap the age at which homeless youth are eligible for the exemption to youth who have not turned 25 years old and (2) delete the list of “homeless services provider” and instead cross-reference to the existing definition in the Health and Safety Code.
Action: Passed as Amended 8-0
- On April 2, 2015