School Funding

Governor Scheduled to Release Updated Budget Proposal Tuesday Morning

Gov. Jerry Brown is slated to unveil his updated budget proposal – the May Revision – at a Capitol news conference beginning at 10AM on Tuesday, according to a media advisory from the governor’s press office.

The California Channel plans to webcast the news conference at www.calchannel.com.

The governor’s office said the budget documents will be available on line shortly after the news conference begins at www.ebudget.ca.gov.

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Capitol News: Measure to Protect Class Size Reduction Program Moves to Appropriations

The Assembly Education Committee passed a bill that would enforce the state's Class Size Reduction program for grades K-3. Because of the state's budget crisis, penalties for districts failing to comply width the state's CSR program have been significantly reduced.  AB 558, by Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D-Carmichael), over the next three years restores the penalties districts face if they increase class sizes above the limit.

Maintaining small class sizes is important because studies consistently find that smaller classes have a significant impact on student learning, particularly for students living at or below the poverty line and minority students.

The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee  for a hearing.

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Capitol News: CTA Fights Tax Credits and Exemptions That Could Cost Schools Billions

California's governor, educators, and other union members worked long and hard to secure voters' approval of Proposition 30 in November to bring desperately needed new revenues to schools and other vital public services. But a flurry of bills in this legislative session threatens to create new budget gaps.

Lawmakers are considering many tax bills seeking tax credits and exemptions for corporations and wealthy tax payers.  CTA and many other groups oppose all these bills as they undermine the tax fairness goals of Prop. 30 and translate into less funding available for public education, health care and seniors.

Our schools have endured $20 billion in cuts over the last several years. With the passage of Prop. 30 and a recovering economy, there is hope funding will be restored. These exemptions would be counterproductive and only hurt California students in the end.

Here are two examples:

CTA-opposed AB 286 by Assembly Member Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) would expand the number of movies in production that would qualify for income tax credits.

CTA-opposed SB 376  by Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana) creates a new billion dollar tax loophole for software manufacturers. According to the Board of Equalization, the exemption would cost the state $660 million in 2016-17 and an annual loss of $1.39 beginning in 2017-2018.

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Legislature Honors CTA for 150 Years of Strong Advocacy for Education

(Photo above) Dana Dillon, an elementary educator from Weed, Alen Ritchie, a retired teacher, and Rick Simpson, deputy chief of staff to Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), display the resolution presented to the Association moments earlier by the Assembly Speaker and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) in honor of its 150th anniversary. Lawmakers honored the California Teachers Association on its sesquicentennial by presenting a legislative resolution commending the organization for its 150 years as one of “the strongest advocates in the country for educators, including teachers, counselors, school librarians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, community college faculty, California State University faculty, and education support professionals.” The resolution was authored by the two legislative leaders and coauthored by a myriad of members of both houses. The legislative leaders made the presentation on the Assembly floor on May 9, the actual anniversary of the CTA’s founding by John Swett.  At that time, the organization was known as the California Educational Society.

resres2(Photo at left) Among others things, the resolution commends CTA for “the vital role it has played in improving the quality of education….”

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Ramona Teachers Overwhelmingly Approve Strike Authorization Vote

Ramona teachers vote to strikeBy a more than three-fourths majority – width 99 percent voting – members of the Ramona Teachers Association overwhelming approved a vote authorizing the RTA’s executive board to call for a strike action “when and if it becomes necessary” to the teachers’ efforts to achieve a fair contract settlement width the Ramona Unified School District.

“Ramona teachers do not want to strike,” said RTA President Donna Braye-Romero, “but we are not willing to accept the district’s unfair, unreasonable imposition. The cuts will not only cripple us financially, but will ultimately harm Ramona’s students and our entire community. If all other efforts fail, we now have the unity and support to strike as a final option.”

RUSD’s current finances show a 15 percent reserve fund balance at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. In addition, a second interim budget revealed an additional $800K, a figure the district knew at the time, but widthheld from both the fact finder and RTA. Also, the district will see an infusion of new money in next year’s budget and for several years to come from the passage of last fall’s Prop. 30. "Now is the time for prudent caution, not knee-jerk reaction," said Braye-Romero.

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Legislative Analyst: New Revenues Expected to Boost K-14 Funding by More Than $4 Billion

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has released figures that reveal California public schools are likely to see an additional $4.3 billion over two years. The LAO charts reflect a change from a projected grim reality – before the passage of CTA-backed Proposition 30 and the economic rebound – to one where the state’s revenues are expected to rise by more than $5.5 billion over three years. The full LAO presentation shows originally projected annual operating shortfalls of more than $5 billion annually for 2012-2013 out to 2016-2017 morphing into annual operating surpluses of more than $8 billion by 2016-2017.

laol1.What was bad news – state revenue operating shortfalls through 2016-2017 – has become much better news, thanks to Proposition 30’s approval by voters in November 2012 and an improving state economy.

 

lao2The LAO’s updated forecasts show the state running an operating surplus of more than $8 billion by 2017-2018.

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Senate Education Defeats Two Opposed Measures; Third Moves Over Educators’ Objections

At the urging of educators, the Senate Education Committee  on Wednesday again defeated two measures that would have respectively undermined effective teacher evaluations and undercut educators’ right to a fair hearing on misconduct allegations.  At the same time, despite educators’ objections, the panel approved an opposed measure that would privatize higher education online coursework.

All three bills were slated for “vote only” proceedings, but the author of one, Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), offered some amendments and testimony aimed at moving his CTA-opposed  SB 441.

Continued objections by representatives of Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, CTA and other employee organizations led Senators to defeat the measure.  That action came despite extraordinary efforts by StudentsFirst – the so-called “education reform” group started by disgraced former Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee – which brought dozens of witnesses to the Capitol in hopes of swaying lawmakers.

The defeat of SB 441, a flagship bill for StudentsFirst, is widely viewed as a rebuff to the organization, which has been reported to rely heavily on anti-union groups for funding.  Recent news reports have uncovered the fact StudentsFirst has received millions of dollars from the Walton family, founders of the non-union WalMart superstore chain.

The panel also defeated SB 531, by Sen. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).  That bill would have rolled back  due-process protections for certificated faculty and eliminated the May 15 deadline for layoff notifications related to reductions in force.  The bill would also have let school boards ignore the rulings of impartial panels reviewing their personnel actions.

The panel’s approval of SB 520, the CTA-opposed higher education measure by Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), sends the online privatization measure to the  Senate Appropriations Committee.

Educators will seek to defeat the bill there.

 

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Capitol News: Higher Education Coalition Comes to Capitol to Urge Lawmakers to Defeat Online Education Bill

Panel Holds SB 520 for Vote Next Week

During meetings width lawmakers in the Capitol on Tuesday, April 23, educators – including CTA Board Member Theresa Montaño – urged lawmakers to vote against CTA-opposed SB 520, a measure by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that would divert education dollars to private contractors to provide online courses, instead of allowing college faculty to offer the coursework.

During the Wednesday afternoon policy hearing, after testimony from CTA and other opponents of SB 520, Senate President Pro Tem Steinberg unveiled amendments to the measure and agreed width the advice of Senate Education Committee Chair Carol Liu to hold the measure over for a vote next week.

The committee chair urged the hold-over of the measure to allow the senator and opponents to discuss the changes.  The Pro Tem testified that he is not convinced his changes will satisfy all opposition, but that he was willing to wait until the amendments were in print and discussions width opponents could occur prior to the vote Wednesday, May 1. Educators can contact their state Senator and urge her or him to VOTE NO on SB 520. It's easy to do! Enroll in our text alert system: text CTA ACTION to 69866 and get the updates on legislation!  Sign up today and you will be alerted on SB 441.  The text alerts will connect educators to their legislators automatically.

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Capitol News: Assembly Education Hears Measure Protecting Class Size Reduction Program

Sets Vote for May 1

On Wednesday, April 24th, he Assembly Education Committee heard testimony about a CTA-supported bill designed to help protect the state's vital Class Size Reduction Program.

Desa Bushnell, a first-grade teacher at Sierra Oaks K-8 school for 17 years, told lawmakers that smaller class sizes are vital to helping students achieve excellence.  Bushnell testified in support of CTA-backed AB 558, by Assemblymember Ken Cooley (D-Carmichael), a measure that encourages school districts to maintain their class size reduction programs despite more than five years of devastating funding cuts.

The Cooley bill eases the financial penalties districts pay when they allow class sizes to rize above the 20:1 target in Grades K-3 and core academic subjects.

Without the Cooley bill's passage, financial penalties levied when class size exceeds that number in any room could lead districts to abandon all limits as a way of saving money. Instead, the measure would maintain at least partial fiscal incentives for districts that preserve their efforts by keeping their average class size below certain limits.

Cooley recognizes that funding cuts have made it more difficult for districts to achieve the objective of about 20 students per classroom, so the bill would reduce the maximum number of students and still receive the monetary incentive, while gradually increasing the penalty on the incentive for every student over 20.

The April 24th hearing was a designated "testimony-only" opportunity, width lawmakers expected to vote on this and other measures during the panel's May 1st hearing.

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Decrease in Pink Slips Thanks to Prop 30

The sharp decrease in the number of pink slips from 20,000 last year to 3,000 this March can be directly attributed to the historic passage of the CTA-supported Proposition 30 in November.

So stated CTA President Dean E. Vogel during remarks to the State Council of Education Saturday morning, April 6 in Los Angeles.

"We not only changed the number of pink slips that were sent out this year, we have changed the public conversation," Vogel said. "Just this week, the New York Times editorialized: 'California has recently shown signs of coming to its senses. Last fall, voters approved Proposition 30, which raises taxes and directs most of the proceeds to education.' "

He added, "That was you, each of you, getting out, talking to friends, neighbors, one voter at a time, that turned the tide."

As CTA embarks on its 150th anniversary celebration this year, Vogel noted, the organization has always stood up for the cause of public education. As CTA founder John Swett once wrote:

"If one state in the union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that State is California. Her population is drawn from all nations. The next generation will be a composite one, made up of the heterogeneous atoms of all nationalities. Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools."

That's one of the reasons CTA is joining the National Education Association, other labor unions and community groups in support of reforming our shattered immigration system.

"The children of these immigrants are our students, who, width our guidance, will become the leaders, the business owners, the workers and the teachers of the future," Vogel said.

While Gov. Brown also believes every student is entitled to educational equality, CTA has some concerns about aspects of his Local Control Funding Formula submitted in his state budget. The formula is designed to provide base level founding to all students and additional funding for English learners, students living in poverty and foster youth. Under the new proposal, many categorical programs would be consolidated, and funds to implement programs like the Common Core State Standards would be decided at the local level. This necessitates that local chapters be involved in those decisions.

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