FY 15-16 Legislative Talking Points
Background: Understanding all the Issues
It is absolutely critical that legislators (and their staff) hear directly from their constituents about the looming risk for their local adult schools to be able to continue to provide services to those most at risk in their communities.
While we are all engaged in the development of local regional consortium plans as provided under AB 86 (2013), the concern for the future existence of K12 adult schools is at an all-time high. The two-year maintenance of effort (MOE) as provided for in the 2013 budget is set to expire July 1, 2015. Unfortunately, after that date there is no funding currently available to support K12 based adult education – despite the regional consortia process. That process only deals with planning for the future, but entails no funding or clarity regarding how funding will be provided to continue to support adult education.
Current thinking by the Governor Brown Administration and Department of Finance (DOF) is to provide funding to the community college system to fund regional plans developed at the local level. While we wholeheartedly support the regional coordination and planning, based on identified needs, gaps, and effective services, the absence of identified and dedicated funding for K12 adult schools puts these critical resources at great risk. In this model, school districts are not provided any certainty to plan for the existence of adult school programs ahead of finalizing their budgets for FY 15-16, much less before the March 15th lay-off notices must be delivered.
In this regard, it is critical that the Administration and DOF be clear in its January 2015 budget plan that dedicated funding will be provided to K12 districts for their adult education programs based on the plans developed in each region. These plans will drive the funding, but the actual dollars must be disseminated to school districts directly in order to ensure the stability, certainty and essential funding in order to maintain K12 adult education, as well as to avoid unnecessary wasteful additional overhead for pass through funding.
Dedicated funding for K12 Adult Schools needs to be clearly provided for in the January 2015 budget plan secured and cannot wait for the consortium plans to be fully developed.
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Discussions with Legislators and Staff should include:
- The importance of K12 adult education
- Adult Education began within the K12 school system, serving more than 1.5 million adults at its peak in 2008/09. K12 based Adult Education sites are spread throughout the 300 school districts supporting such schools while Community Colleges are represented by just 112 college districts.
- A staggering 230,000 California immigrant youth lack a high school diploma or High School Equivalency Certification.
- 122,000 California young adults are not eligible for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) due to education requirements at the time of the President’s executive order and in need of Adult Education to satisfy those requirements.
- Access for those students currently served by the K12 based Adult Education system is greatly threatened by the end of the MOE in FY 15-16 – adult schools will cease to have any guaranteed funding as of July 1st, 2015. In this regard, how do school districts plan for FY 15-16 if there is no certainty for funding for adult schools?
- Many of the adult literacy students’ first steps into adult education are through their children’s schools. The current Adult Education system is able to provide English as a Second Language, Family Literacy, Basic Skills, and Parent Education at local schools.
- The access issue is not just physical but also psychological. There is a long history of community members looking to K12 based Adult Education as the culturally accessible entity that supports their journey to self sufficiency, integration and citizenship.
- Accessibility is an issue that the LAO addresses in that it acknowledges the strong points of both systems. The need to educate locally through the existing infrastructure of the adult schools throughout the state should be considered.
- LCFF and LCAP are set up to focus on K-12 needs, not on adults with basic skills needs.
- The regional consortia process will not conclude their studies and funding recommendations in time to save K12 adult schools from being closed down in FY 15-16.
- For their assistance in putting pressure on the Governor Brown Administration and Department of Finance to provide K12 specific funding for adult education in the Governor’s FY 15-16 budget to be released in January 2015 (stress the importance of getting it right in January to provide clarity to school districts as they seek to finalize their budgets).
- Support for proposals to provide dedicated funding for K12 based adult education based on the regional consortia plans – in both the legislative and budget processes.
Why the regional consortia timeline will not provide funding decisions in time to prevent adult schools from being shut down in 2015-16.
- The development of plans by regional consortia will take time.
- Many regions are just getting started.
- We want to be sure they are done right, with fidelity, based on well-founded data and assessment of need.
- The purpose is to develop seamless, collaborative systems within each region, which is dependent upon existing strong linkages and relationships being in place, built upon trust – which takes time - and equal commitment to adult learners in the community.
- As local consortium plans are developed, resources and funding needed to address the gaps in services will become clear and will be reflected in the plans.
- Going forward innovation will be nurtured through a strong system that engages in continuous assessment of changing demographics and continuous quality improvement based on student outcomes. As local systems are established, portions of funding can be outcome based.
The shift to a single, unified Adult Education System, with the State Chancellor’s Office as the Fiscal Agent, and funding being distributed locally through the “consortium” with another local fiscal agent is problematic:
- While there is talk of a collaborative effort between the State Chancellor’s Office and the California Department of Education, establishing the State Chancellor’s office as the state fiscal agent runs the long term risk of K12 based Adult Schools being further eroded over time. The California Department of Education that has established curricular, professional development and program outcomes in place specific to K12 adult schools needs to continue to have a key governance role in funding for local K12 adult schools.
- Establishing yet another bureaucratic layer at the local level through the establishment of another local fiscal agent, for each local consortia, which will require administrative costs to be recovered, is a waste of critical resources.
- There is a contradiction in that the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) seeks to serve students more equitably, directing more resources to those most marginalized and at risk, yet failing to provide stability and certainty to K12 districts to maintain their adult schools in community-based locations under the K12 system – those entities with expertise in lower literacy instruction – takes funding away from the most marginalized to enhance post-secondary.
- K12 School Districts’ missions are primarily about students achieving a high school diploma and access to short term training to enter the workforce. Adult learners in need of a high school diploma, English language development, and basic skills are well served by a K12 based Adult Education system that has the benefit of the school districts’ professional development and expertise in these basic skills and secondary skills education. K12 Adult Education teachers are credentialed in these content areas and therefore provide a level of expertise that is critical.
- The population served is significant. Prior to flexibility, adult schools served a significantly larger number of students than the community colleges in literacy, citizenship, high school diploma, and short term career training classes. The LAO report specifically identifies adult schools as serving a much larger population of the millions in dire need of literacy services.