Here is CCAE Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke's analysis of Gov. Brown's Budget Proposal.
FY 15-16 Budget Overview - "Stability"
By Dawn Koepke, CCAE Legislative Analyst
We've been anxiously awaiting news, having worked so hard to make meaningful headway with the Administration and Department of Finance (DOF) on the future of adult education. All of that hard work culminated in the Governor releasing his FY 15-16 budget plan this morning that is workable and provides stability for K12 adult education when we need it most.
All-in-all, the proposal provides $500 million Proposition 98 General Fund for a newly created Adult Education Block Grant, which the Administration is characterizing as an "integral component of the state's workforce development strategy." The Block Grant will fund adult education programs in elementary and secondary basic skills; classes and courses in citizenship and English as a second language for immigrants; education programs for adults with disabilities; short-term CTE programs linked to occupations with high employment potential; and programs for apprentices. These programs align with the AB 86 parameters and are intended to be aligned with the economic needs of each region, providing clear and accessibly pathways to in-demand jobs. The program is intended to promote ongoing collaboration between different providers - K12 adult schools/school districts, community colleges, and other adult education providers in a region - and with organizations such as workforce investment boards, social services departments, and correctional rehabilitation agencies.
Of greatest importance to help ease the transition to an AB 86 regional approach, the proposal provides dedicated funding directly to K12 school districts in the amount of the districts' maintenance of effort for adult education to maintain current capacity. While the proposal isn't perfect, this component was critically important and one of the key items we advocated heavily for to preserve current capacity as we make the transition. Other details of the proposal were also pulled directly from our advocacy, including the Chancellor of the Community Colleges and the Superintendent of Public Instruction being required to jointly approve allocations of funds to each region based on those regions with the greatest adult education needs.
In terms of the decision making related to funding, the Administration has been adamant about decisions being made at the local level within the consortia. In this regard and in an attempt to ensure adult education programs are well coordinated and linked with the economic needs of their region, the Administration has proposed that each consortium designate an allocation board responsible for planning and allocating block grant funds. More specifically, they envision each consortium forming an allocation committee consisting of seven members who represent community colleges, K-12 districts, other adult education providers, local workforce investment boards, county social services departments, correctional rehabilitation programs, and one public member with relevant expertise. Each allocation committee would then coordinate with its regional partners to ensure the various funding streams are integrated - block grant funds, other K12 and community college resources, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act allocations, and other federal funds. Each allocation committee will then determine how to allocate block grant funds for direct instruction, support services, and administration of its consortium (capped at 5%). Future allocations will be distributed according to these allocation committees.
While this allocation board/committee approach is different than what we had advocated for, its intent is to help level the playing field in the decision making process - another key issue we advocated for with DOF. We recognize, however, that not all regions are created equal but believe strongly this is a good start from which to work from that recognizes K12 adult education as an equal partner in the future of adult education. We'll clearly need to spend some time thinking about the board/committee, how it should operate, decision making processes, criteria, etc. This will take some time, but is doable and the fact that we've worked so well with the DOF thus far provides great opportunity to lock the details of the proposal down in the coming months.
All-in-all, I feel like we've made tremendous progress. Keep in mind that just two years ago the Governor's January budget proposal proposed to shift all of adult education to the Community College system essentially eliminating K12 adult education. Today, however, we are recognized as an important partner in the future of adult education and will retain our own standing. This turn around did not happen by chance - with your help we've worked hard to ensure stability and a bright future for K12 adult schools. And while I know that $500 million will not get us back to square one fiscally, it is certainly a good start for year one - especially with the dedicated maintenance of capacity funding to provide stability.
As we work with DOF to fill in the details (not yet available), we urge you to continue to work in earnest with your consortium and keep us informed of that progress. We'll certainly have more to say in the coming weeks and will be holding a webinar at the end of January to provide further detail. Stay tuned for the formal announcement...
For more information, please see http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/fullbudgetsummary.pdf.