Sunday, November 2, 2014

CCAE November Communicator: The Countdown Begins

For the full November Communicator, click here.  Here is the Legislative Update:
The Countdown Begins
The countdown has begun - 11 weeks to the release of the January FY 15-16 budget proposal that will provide insight in to the future of adult education.  While we believe we have made significant headway with the Department of Finance (DOF) this fall, we are not likely to know the details until the proposal is released, January 9th. This is certainly unnerving for us all, without question.  Nevertheless, we put a strong strategic advocacy plan in place to help impact the outcome and are feeling very good about it. At the local level you have stepped up in a big way - garnering support from your superintendents, boards, community, elected officials, and more. At the state level, we have also been working hard to put together a strong coalition to support K12 adult education and fight for a budget plan that ensures stability for the K12 system ahead of the March 15th layoff notice deadline. We've held countless meetings with stakeholders, elected officials, legislative budget and policy staff, DOF, and more.
In terms of the key issues we've been focused on, they include:
  • Focused on a Dedicated, Stable Funding Structure for K-12 Adult Schools 
  • Transition Year - Maintain K12 Capacity
  • Utilizing Existing State Fiscal Infrastructures to Apportion Funding
  • AB 86 Plans Inform & Drive Funding
We believe these are critical components of a workable January budget proposal. As a matter of fact, we have prepared and put forth our own CCAE and CAEAA proposal that addresses these key issues in a manner that is consistent with the goals of the Administration and DOF - win / win! Our proposal would provide for FY 15-16 to be a transition year whereby roughly $350 million would be taken from the DOF-proposed $500 million pot to maintain capacity in the K12 system - first and foremost. This will help ensure stability for existing capacity in K12 adult schools by giving school districts a clear sense of what they can expect to include in their FY 15-16 budgets for adult education and avoid the need to issue layoff notices by the March 15th deadline. The $150 million leftover would go towards addressing the needs and gaps outlined in the AB 86 regional plans across the state. Certainly, $500 million is nowhere close to sufficient to meet the needs that exist today, but it is a start and we have the commitment from Finance to allocate at least that in January's proposal. At this point, the critical component is to ensure stability and avoid losing current capacity - we believe this approach helps achieve that in the transition year. Additionally, we are proposing that the FY 15-16 budget also allocate the FY 16-17 funding and set up a process to decide how best to distribute that funding to the regions and at the local level based on the AB 86 regional plans starting in the second year. Starting such planning early, with an idea of what school districts will have to budget with going in to the next budget cycle, will help provide greater clarity in budgeting year over year. 
And while we believe we have made considerable headway in working with DOF, we are not out of the woods yet. One key issue that remains a challenge is the flow of resources. DOF continues to be interested in an approach whereby funding would be provided to the Community College Chancellor's Office (CCCO) for distribution to the regional fiscal agents who would then distribute the funding to the consortium partners. We continue to have serious concerns with such a distribution approach. We believe strongly that such an approach would run the risk of distancing adult education programs from K12 districts. Regional plans build upon the unique identity of K12 adult schools and so it is imperative that they continue to be tied to CDE and their individual school districts. This connection is critically important in terms of access for the students the K12 system serves; the learning mechanisms associated with basic skills needs that builds upon the K12 model of teaching to ensure proper uptake of the education that is more closely aligned to K12 curriculum; staffing issues related to contracts, oversight, development, etc.; accreditation; federal oversight and matching; and more.  Should the direct fiscal connection to CDE and the individual school districts be lost, K12 adult schools will lose their identity and the undeniable benefit to the students we serve will be destroyed as school districts are distanced from support of their adult schools. This preventable wedge would potentially reduce the access so many of our students rely on.
It is for these reasons that CCAE and CAEAA have offered a proposal that would model the distribution of funds similar to the Perkins funding model whereby CDE is provided the allocation from the federal government and with an Interagency Agreement with the CCCO provides the CC allocation to the Chancellor's office to distribute to its community college districts. Similarly, our proposal would provide the funding, consistent with the Perkins model and DOF's interest in providing the funding to the CCCO's office, to the CCCO's office and require an Interagency Agreement with CDE to allow CDE to in turn distribute the funds directly to school districts using its existing fiscal infrastructures. We believe we are on solid ground with such a proposal that would avoid the bureaucracy and concerns with a local fiscal agent and utilize existing fiscal infrastructure through CDE and the CCCO - effective and efficient.
In terms of moving forward over the next 11 weeks, we urge you to continue your efforts at the local level to garner support for maintaining K12 adult schools and current capacity. And for those schools that have not yet finalized their Nascar or Superintendent letters, we ask you to wrap them up and send them in to the Governor within the week. Finance will be presenting their proposal to him very soon, and we want to be sure he is hearing from across the state. Additionally, continue to meet with your local legislators as we move towards January.  Of note, some districts will have new members elected as of November 4th - be sure to know who your members are and for those that are new we urge you to work quickly to bring them up to speed on our efforts and what lies ahead. In terms of specific talking points for your legislators, we recommend the following key points be made:
1) Maintain & Stabilize K-12 Capacity
2) Transition Year w/ Maintenance of Capacity Funding for K12 Out of FY 15-16 Allocation
3) Perkins Model Distribution - CDE Allocation to K12 Districts through Interagency Agreement w/ CCCO
Again, we feel like we are on very solid ground with our proposal, which we have shared with DOF and the Legislature. Keep up the great work at the local level, and rest assured we won't rest until K12 adult schools are stabilized. We have a strong, supportable plan that protects the critical access to our programs and services and will continue to push forward with advocacy to ensure its intent is included in the January proposal. Strength in numbers!
To access the funding proposal and related documents, as well as the list of cc emails for your Nascar and Superintendent letters, you can visit
"I'll take a stable budget for K12 Adult Schools, please,
for 300... "

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