Our recommendations for K-12 programs in this and succeeding section of the Analysis are largely consistent with--in many instances identical to--the Governor's budget priorities. In some instances we recommend changes in program details, without recommending changes in program amounts. We withhold recommendation on a few spending requests, pending clarification for the Legislature of important details. Finally, we make recommendations, in some cases, to reduce program spending and, in other cases, to augment program spending.
In summary, our major recommendations would:
We recommend that the Legislature increase its estimate of the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee for K-14 education by $111 million over the Governor's budget, due to upward revision of per-capita personal income growth.
Figure 1 shows the Proposition 98 amounts available for 1998-99 and 1999-00 under the Governor's budget forecast and under our forecast. For 1998-99 the forecasts are identical. Although we project higher General Fund revenue than the administration for 1998-99, and a higher minimum funding guarantee under Proposition 98, the increase in the minimum guarantee has no practical effect on current-year funding. This is because the amount already appropriated for Proposition 98 purposes in the current year is more than enough to satisfy either the guarantee amount forecast by the Governor or our office.
|Governor's Budget and LAO |
Proposition 98 Forecasts
|(Dollars in Millions)|
|Difference with budget||$0||$111|
For the budget year, as Figure 1 shows, we estimate that the Proposition 98 guarantee will be $111 million higher than presumed in the Governor's spending plan. This increase is due to our upward revision of per capita personal income growth (Proposition 98's "test 2" inflation factor) from 3.4 percent to 3.7 percent.
Figure 2 summarizes how our K-12 recommendations, if adopted by the Legislature, would create new spending opportunities for education from Proposition 98 resources. As the figure shows, our recommendations would make available $155 million of one-time Proposition 98 funds and $218 million of ongoing funds.
|Proposition 98 Funds Made Available by LAO Recommendations|
|Revise Proposition 98 guarantee||--||$110.9|
|Reading development institutes||--||6.0|
Figure 3 summarizes how we recommend that the Legislature spend these resources.
|LAO Recommended Reallocation of Proposition 98 Funds|
|School district block grants||39.2||91.2|
We recommend that the Legislature provide $91 million of onoing funds, and $39 million of one-time funds, for school district block grants. As one potential use of these grants, we recommend that the Legislature authorize school districts to make bonus payments to credentialed teachers at schools that face severe challenges in recruiting/retaining teachers.
The last of the recommended reallocations of Proposition 98 resources shown in Figure 3 is school district block grants. In effect, we are recommending that school district block grants be used for the allocation of residual amounts of Proposition 98 monies that exist once other appropriation decisions are made. On the basis of our other spending recommendations, $91 million of ongoing funds, and $39 million of one-time funds, would be available for these block grants. These grants, which would be apportioned on the basis of average daily attendance (ADA), would allow school districts maximum flexibility to meet local needs.
As one potential use of the block grants, we recommend that the Legislature authorize school districts to make one-time bonus payments to teachers at schools that face severe challenges in recruiting and retaining credentialed teachers. As we discuss in the section "Teacher Quality" (later in this chapter), schools in poor urban and poor rural areas face severe to extreme challenges in this regard. In some of these districts, more than half of the newly hired teachers hold emergency permits instead of teaching credentials. In many instances, as soon as the emergency permit holders obtain a credential, they are lured away by more affluent areas that are perceived by the teachers as being "easier" to work in. This problem has been exacerbated by class size reduction and its effects on teacher labor market dynamics.
For these reasons, we recommend that the Legislature authorize school districts to use block grant monies to help "level" the recruitment/retention playing field. Specifically, we recommend that the Legislature authorize the local option use of recruitment/retention payments to credentialed teachers at schools serving high proportions of low-income students, as defined in Section 69613 (e) of the Education Code. (This is the same set of schools designated as low-income "teacher shortage" schools under the state's Assumption Program of Loans for Education program.)
Our other detailed program discussions and recommendations for K-12 education follow this section.
We recommend that the Legislature approve the proposed trailer bill language to change the way the K-12 cost-of-living adjustments
(COLAs) are calculated. This would replace a flawed calculation methodology with an accurate way of estimating inflation. For 1999-00, it would result in a 1.83 percent COLA for schools.
Current law requires the Department of Finance (DOF) to use the inflation index for state and local government purchases as the annual COLA for K-12 schools. Each year, the budgeted COLA is calculated, according to Education Code Section 42238.1, as the annual change in that index over the prior two years. Sometimes, this is a straight-forward calculation.
It becomes more complicated when the inflation index is rebenched by the U.S. Department of Commerce, something that happens periodically. The Education Code requires DOF to calculate the COLA by dividing the prior-year revised index by the unrevised index of a year earlier. This comparison of revised to unrevised data produces anomalous results. This is the case for 1999-00. Due to revision in the index, the statutory formula calls for a 0.3 percent COLA. This does not come close to reflecting actual inflation, by anyone's estimation.
The budget proposes trailer bill language that would delete the requirement to compare revised data with prior-year unrevised data. The new formula would use only revised data so that COLAs reflect the best current estimate of inflation that occurred during the past year. This change would result in a COLA for the 1999-00 budget of 1.83 percent. An identical proposal was made in the 1998-99 budget, but was not adopted due to disputes over the revenue limit deficit factor.
Change Is Appropriate. Figure 4 displays, for 1991-92 through 1998-99, a comparison between the COLAs calculated using the current statutory formula and the proposed calculation. In addition, we show actual inflation--measured by the most recently revised inflation index for state and local government purchases. As Figure 4 shows, the statutory COLA methodology yields erratic and sometimes bizarre results. For example, in 1992-93 and 1993-94 (years when the series was rebenched) the statutory formula resulted in negative COLAs. In these years the Legislature disregarded the statutory calculation and used the proposed formula instead. These types of results can occur whenever the series is rebenched, approximately every four to five years. Even in other years, a review of Figure 4 (see next page) indicates that the statutory calculation is often an inaccurate measure of inflation. Therefore, we recommend the Legislature approve the proposed trailer bill language because the proposal is a more consistent and accurate reflection of inflation.
|Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) |
|1990-91 Through 1999-00|
|Statutory COLA Calculationa||Budget's Proposed Methodology||Actual Inflation|
|a The statutory COLA was not always adopted each year by the Legislature.|
School district revenue limits provide general purpose support for schools. Revenue limits were established in Chapter 1406, Statutes of 1972 (SB 90, Dills), as part of the state's response to the Serrano v. Priest state Supreme Court decision of 1971. The revenue limit was calculated to be equal to the per-student amount of general purpose student aid and local property taxes that a district received in 1972-73. The limits do not include state categorical funds (such as state aid for special education or class size reduction), lottery revenue, or any federal aid to local districts. Currently, approximately two-thirds of state support to K-12 school districts is provided through the revenue limit mechanism.
The state keeps track of two revenue limits--(1) base revenue limits and (2) deficited revenue limits. The base revenue limit grows each year by the statutory cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) without regard to the actual COLA that is provided. During the recession years of the early 1990s, the statutory COLA was not fully funded. Instead of adjusting base revenue limits to reflect these lower COLAs, a second set of revenue limits were created--so called "deficited" revenue limits. Deficited revenue limits reflect the amount that the state actually provides to school districts and county offices of education. The state keeps track of the difference between base revenue limits and deficited revenue limits--referred to as the revenue limit deficit factor. The deficit factor reduces base revenue limits for school districts and county offices of education by a percentage that is approved as part of the annual budget process. The size of the deficit has decreased over the last few years because the Legislature has approved "deficit reduction" funding as part of recent annual budget acts. Since 1994-95, the state has reduced the deficit factor from 11 percent to 8.8 percent as a result of additional funding.
We recommend approval of $200 million for revenue limit deficit factor buy-out as a means of increasing general purpose funding for school districts and county offices of education.
The Governor's budget proposes $200 million to buy-out a portion of the revenue limit deficit factor. This would reduce the deficit factor from 8.8 percent to 8.0 percent. It would increase revenue limits by around $35 per student, for an average revenue limit of $4,000 per student.
Increases General Purpose Revenue. The budget includes a 1.83 percent revenue limit COLA for 1999-00 based on a proposed change in the statutory COLA calculation. In preparing the budget, the Department of Finance (DOF) calculated the existing statutory COLA to be 2.42 percent. The difference between the two COLA calculations is around $200 million. Since the new statutory formula would provide schools with $200 million less in COLA, the administration decided to provide $200 million to buy-out the deficit factor, in order to keep general purpose funding for schools relatively "whole."
Our calculation of the statutory COLA, however, generates a level of about 0.3 percent instead of 2.42 percent. We have discussed our findings with DOF staff and they agree that our calculation is correct. Because its COLA calculation was wrong, the administration's stated rationale for providing the $200 million for deficit reduction is gone. However, in our view it still makes sense to provide additional general purpose funds to schools as a means of increasing local spending flexibility. For this reason, we recommend approving $200 million to reduce the deficit factor.
We recommend that the Legislature adopt trailer bill language to adjust school district and county office of education base revenue limits and the deficit factor to more accurately reflect the adjustments provided to revenue limits over time.
In the past we have recommended eliminating the deficit factor (see 1998-99 Analysis, page E-46). Nevertheless, the Legislature included a deficit factor as part of the adopted 1998-99 budget package. If the Legislature desires to continue keeping track of a deficit factor, we recommend adjusting it to better reflect (1) actual inflation and (2) all general purpose funding added by the Legislature over the years.
What Is the Appropriate Deficit Factor? According to DOF the deficit factor is currently 8.8 percent. We agree that DOF's calculation is correct based on current statutory requirements. However, the strict use the of the statutory COLA as a measure of inflation overstates actual inflation as measured using the most recently revised inflation index for state and local government purchases. This is due in part because it is based on preliminary data that is later revised.
In addition to statutory COLAs, revenue limit funding has also received other funding adjustments. Figure 1 compares our best measure of actual inflation over the period 1990-91 through 1998-99 to actual revenue limit adjustments. These adjustments come in three forms:
|Revenue Limit Adjustments Compared to Inflation|
|1990-91 Through 1998-99|
|Revenue Limit Adjustments|
|Actual Inflation||COLA||0||Deficit Payback||0||Equalization||0||Total
Adjusting the Deficit Factor Makes Sense. Over the decade, the Legislature approved cumulative increases in funding for revenue limits totaling 26.4 percent (including all adjustments), compared to actual inflation of 28.6 percent. This means that, when all adjustments are taken into account, an increase of only 1.7 percent (based on a compounded calculation) would be needed to make funded revenue limits fully adjusted to inflation. Thus, we find that compared to actual inflation the published deficit factor of 8.8 percent is too high.
Figure 2 summarizes our calculation of the deficit factor including various adjustments and the amount required to pay back the deficit. Depending on how the deficit factor is measured, it would take between $435 million to $2.2 billion of additional resources to buy-out the deficit factor. If the Legislature approves $200 million for deficit buy-out and adopts an adjusted deficit factor of 1.7 percent, the remaining deficit would require only an additional $235 million to buy-out.
|Cost to Buy-Out Deficit Factor|
|(Dollars in Billions)|
|LAO calculation without equalization||5.2||1.3|
|LAO calculation with equalization||1.7||0.4|
Our calculation of the deficit factor is consistent with the Governor's recommended revised statutory COLA calculation because in both cases, revised inflation data, rather than unrevised data, is used to determine the appropriate amount. Adjusting revenue limits to more accurately reflect growth in actual inflation is sensible and reasonable. For these reasons, we recommend the Legislature adopt trailer bill language to adjust school district base revenue limits to more accurately reflect funding provided to revenue limits over time.
The purpose of a deficit factor is to measure the extent to which school districts' purchasing power (for general purpose funding) has not kept pace with inflation. It is in the Legislature's interests to have this measure be as accurate as possible. This would help assure that the Legislature's decisions to allocate funds for K-12 programs are based on the best information available. Our recommended approach would provide the Legislature with the accurate measure it should have, because our approach is based on a more accurate measure of past inflation, and a more complete accounting of general purpose funding the Legislature has provided to school districts.
The Governor has proposed a number of initiatives and funding of $186 million in the budget year to improve student achievement in reading. These initiatives are outlined in Figure 1.
|Governor's Reading Initiatives|
|Elementary School Intensive Reading Program||
$75 million for extra reading instruction for students in grades K-4. Program requirements and appropriation are in AB 2x (Mazzoni and Cunneen). Purposes: (1) increased instruction to pupils who have difficulty learning to read and (2) "stimulating and enriching opportunities" for all pupils to increase reading skills and enhance enjoyment of reading. The intensive reading instruction is to be delivered four hours per day for six continuous weeks during summer or intersession, unless facility constraints or other educational reasons require an alternative.
|Classroom Libraries||$25 million to supply books to K-4 classrooms.|
|Governor's Reading Call to Action Campaign||$4 million to develop and conduct a public involvement campaign to promote reading.|
|Governor's Reading Awards Program||$2 million to provide $5,000 to the 400 elementary and middle schools whose students read the most books on the Superintendent of Public Instruction's California Reading Lists.|
|Secondary School Reading Instruction||$5 million in federal funds to identify and disseminate exemplary instructional models for use in teaching reading to high school students, with emphasis on correcting reading deficiencies.|
|English Language Learners Supplemental Instruction||$50 million for supplemental instructional time for limited-English-proficient pupils (English language learners).|
|English Language Learners Professional Development||$10 million for professional development of teachers, administrators, and other staff who provide instruction and support to English language learners.|
|English Language Development Test||$14 million to administer a test to assess the English proficiency of all English language learners.|
|Preschool Reading Development Guidelines||$1 million in federal funds to publish and distribute preschool reading development guidelines and to train child care providers in their use.|
The Governor's initiatives seek to address the low performance level in reading shown by many of California's K-12 students. For example, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), California's public schools were tied for last place among the states in reading, with 56 percent of its fourth-grade students scoring below the level of basic competency. Only 18 percent of the public school fourth-graders tested in California scored at or above what the NAEP defines as "proficient" skill level. The fact that nearly 25 percent of California's students are "English language learners"--for whom English is a second language--clearly is a factor and adds to the state's challenge in raising reading achievement. In response to these problems, the Governor has identified improving reading achievement as one of three issue areas for the Legislature's education special session.
The Governor has called for focus on reading as a "gateway" skill, crucial to success in academic areas for all students. Ample research supports this view. The link between reading and other skills also may help explain, in part, why California's students test so poorly in other academic areas. In 1996, for example, only 11 percent of California's fourth graders scored at a "proficient" level in math on NAEP exams; only 18 percent of eighth graders scored at a proficient level in math, and only 20 percent scored at a proficient level in science. And while the Governor's proposals focus attention on the elementary grades, on average students at every level in California's K-12 system perform poorly compared with their counterparts in the rest of the nation, as shown from both NAEP and Standardized Testing and Report (STAR) test results.
As we discuss below, over the years the Legislature has established a variety of programs designed to address the need for supplemental instruction in reading and other academic subjects where improvement is needed. It is also important to note that our educational system is complex, and it is not yet known how some very recent changes will affect student achievement. For instance:
Finally, to provide context for the Legislature's consideration of the Governor's reading initiatives, it is important to ask what specific improvements in reading achievement the administration intends to accomplish with these initiatives. As of this writing, the administration had not stated the specific results expected from its program initiatives to raise reading achievement. We believe it is important for the Legislature to decide at the outset the specific objectives and outcomes it expects from these new programs. The Legislature needs this information to know whether it may be investing too little, or too much, and to be able to take informed corrective action, if needed, in the future.
Most of the focus in the Governor's reading proposals is on improving reading skills for three somewhat overlapping groups of students:
(1) students in grades K-4 experiencing difficulty with reading, (2) students of all reading skill levels in grades K-4, and (3) English language learners in all grades. The Governor's proposals should be considered in the context of existing programs with related objectives--programs that seek to improve reading and other academic skills by providing additional instructional time or specialized instructional assistance. Figures 2, 3, and 4 summarize these existing programs by three program types:
|Existing Remedial Programs|
|Remedial Summer School, Grades 7-12a|
|Funding: $72 million budget year.|
|Program: Districts required to offer to students in grades 7-12 who are not meeting proficiency standards in basic skill areas (including reading comprehension, writing, and computational skills). In addition, districts may offer supplemental instruction in math, science, or other core academic areas.|
|Remedial Supplemental Instruction, Grades 2-9b|
|Funding: $107 million budget year ($76 million grades 2-6; $31 million grades 7-9).|
|Program: Districts required to offer to retained students in grades 2-9; districts may offer to students in grades 2-6 who have deficiencies in math, reading, or written expression.|
|Miller-Unruh Basic Reading Programc|
|Funding: $33 million budget year.|
|a Chapter 100, Statutes of 1981 (AB 777, Greene).|
|b Chapter 743, Statutes of 1998 (AB 1639, Sweeney).|
|c Legislative authority has "sunset." Program still funded in annual budget acts.|
|Existing Programs to Improve Academic Skills |
(Not Limited to Remedial)
|Core Academic Summer School|
|Funding: $121 million budget year.|
|After School Learning and Safe Neighborhoods Partnershipa|
|Funding: $50 million budget year.|
|a Chapter 318, Statutes of 1998 (AB 2284, Torlakson), and Chapter 319, Statutes of 1998 (AB 1428, Ortiz).|
|Supplemental Instructional Programs Provided
Through Larger Blocks of Funding
|Economic Impact Aid (EIA). Apportioned to districts based on the number of poor students and English language learners. The budget proposes $414 million for the program in 1999-00. Funds can be used for a variety of remedial programs for students in grades K-12, including the Back to Basics Summer School Reading Program of 1996. (Chapter 931, Statutes of 1996 [AB 2265, Villaraigosa]).|
|Title I of the Federal Improving America's Schools Act (IASA). Allocated to districts based on the number of poor students. In 1998-99, California received over $950 million in Title I funding. Funding enables schools to offer various supplemental programs for additional instructional time, including programs in reading, math, and language arts.|
|Title VII of the Federal IASA. Competitive grants to schools and districts with high concentrations of English language learners to fund compensatory education programs for these pupils. For federal fiscal year 1999 California will receive $110 million for 301 grants.|
|21st Century Learning Centers. California received 33 of the 282 grants given nationally in 1998 under this federal program. It requires "expanded learning opportunities" and gives competitive priority for academic services that address core curricular areas. $200 million will be awarded nationally in 1999.|
|Federal Reading Excellence Act. These out-of-school tutoring programs are funded by the federal Reading Excellence Act, which will allocate $241 million nationally in grants to states.|
|Student Academic Partnership Program. State program (Chapter 811, Statutes of 1997, SB 316, [Hayden]), supported with federal funds ($5 million per year for three years), providing grants to 22 districts for tutoring by college students for grades K-6 in reading, math, and writing using the America Reads model.|
|Reading Recovery. Districts and schools can use discretionary funding such as private grants for the Reading Recovery program, which has been adopted in over 400 districts in California; program involves a year of course work for selected teachers who then offer remedial assistance to individual first graders on a short-term intensive basis.|
In reviewing these existing programs, an important point emerges: a wide array of programs providing additional instructional time outside the regular classroom already exists, and different schools have different mixes of these programs in place. This being so, we believe it is critical for districts to have flexibility in using new and existing funding for additional instructional time in ways that best meet their unserved needs.
For 1999-00, we recommend the Legislature create a new consolidated item for improving academic skills in order to better match funding with local needs. The Legislature should incorporate the Governor's two proposed supplemental instruction reading programs into this item.
The Need for Increased Local Flexibility. Many factors affect the needs that different schools and districts may have for programs to raise academic achievement. These factors include:
These variables argue for maximum flexibility at the local level to select an appropriate mix of programs and to determine the amount of resources to put into different programs.
We believe that, given the variety of existing supplemental instructional programs and the different needs that exist in different districts, it makes sense to consolidate existing supplemental instructional programs into one item that would give districts more flexibility to meet local priorities. In addition, rather than create additional categorical programs that restrict funding to targeted populations and subjects, we believe the Governor's two proposed new supplemental programs should be added to this item. Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature establish a new consolidated item for improving academic skills. Figure 5 shows the seven categorical programs that we would roll into this item.
|Programs to Be Consolidated in LAO's Improving Academic Skills Item|
|Remedial Summer School||$103|
|Core Summer School||121|
|Remedial Supplemental Instruction||76|
|Miller-Unruh Reading Program||33|
|After School Learning and Safe Neighborhoods||50|
|K-4 Intensive Reading||75|
|English Language Learners Supplemental Program||50|
How the Proposed Item Would Work. Our proposal would pattern the "Improving Academic Skills" item after the mega-item (Item 6110-230-0001) that has been part of the K-12 budget for several years, with some important differences. The mega-item funds a diverse array of programs under a single item. Districts receive the same amounts they would have received if the programs were funded outside the general mega-item. The mega-item allows districts to spend up to 15 percent of the amount allocated to them for any specific program in the mega-item on any other programs in the mega-item.
In contrast to the mega-item, our proposed improving academic skills item contains programs that share a common general purpose, and we propose that districts would be able to transfer their program-specific allocations freely among the seven programs. Under our recommended approach, each district would receive the same total amount it would receive for the sum of the Governor's seven separate program allocations. Under this approach, districts would be able to better address local needs in serving distinct groups of students. Districts could also have a wider range of choices over program models, when to offer instruction, and the subjects in which instruction would be offered.
The Legislature Should Eventually Create Block Grants to Replace Categorical Grants. As we described in our January publication, A Special Session Guide to K-12 Reform, we believe that the Legislature should eventually go even further to ease the excessively prescriptive requirements of categorical programs and to erase the arbitrary funding distinctions between them. The Legislature can accomplish this by enacting legislation that would create block grants that would take effect for the 2000-01 fiscal year (to allow the Department of Education to carry out necessary technical formula revisions and to allow establishment of a statewide accountability system). Increased flexibility and increased accountability go hand in hand. As the state develops an effective accountability system, there will be less and less need for restrictions on how districts spend funds. And, as districts and schools become less bound by restrictions, it will be easier for them to deliver that for which the state is holding them accountable.
The Governor's budget proposes three initiatives to assist the 1.4 million California students of limited English proficiency, also known as English language learners:
$50 million annually to provide funding for supplemental instructional time, such as after school or summer school programs, for English language learners.
$10 million annually to fund professional development for teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and other personnel who provide instruction and support to English language learners.
The Governor has asked a task force to identify successful strategies to teach English language learners and to make recommendations on the most effective use of the funds for the first two items by early April. (We address the supplemental instructional time proposal earlier in this section in a recommendation to create an "improving academic skills item,"and the professional development proposal in our Teacher Quality section.) In this section we focus on the $14 million proposal to administer the ELD test. We also review Proposition 227's appropriation of $50 million annually to teach English to adult English language learners who pledge to tutor school children in the learning of English.
We recommend that the State Department of Education provide a full report on progress towards developing an English Language Development (ELD) test during budget hearings. Pending receipt and review of this information, we withhold recommendation on $14 million to administer an ELD test.
The budget provides $14 million from Proposition 98 funds for school districts to administer an ELD test. Chapter 936, Statutes of 1997 (AB 748, Escutia) required the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop an ELD test by January 1, 1999. That date, however, has slipped. The development of the test has not yet begun and it is uncertain whether a test that meets the law's specifications can be developed in time to be administered within the budget year. Even if it is possible to develop the test in time to be administered within the budget year, it may not be appropriate to do so, as we discuss below.
Requirements for the Test. State law requires that an ELD test, or series of tests, meet certain requirements:
Status of Effort. Chapter 886, Statutes of 1997 (AB 1188, Lempert), appropriated $800,000 from the General Fund to the State Department of Education (SDE) for development of an ELD test. To date, SDE has spent approximately $300,000 for development of ELD standards, through a contract with the San Diego County Office of Education. The draft standards were presented to the State Board of Education in November 1998. The board was critical of the draft standards, and SDE has now revised them. As of this writing, the revised proposed standards await approval by the board.
Timeline for Test Development. The SDE staff indicate that, once standards are adopted, they expect it will take between 12 and 18 months to develop an ELD test aligned to these standards. This much time is required to:
According to SDE staff, completing this work within a year's time is very optimistic and assumes that no controversies, problems, or unforeseen circumstances develop. Thus, under the most optimistic scenario, the earliest the test could be administered is in the spring of 2000. We understand from SDE staff, however, that normally this test would be administered in the fall to entering students as a means of determining the best instructional placement for the students. (The test would be given annually and, in the years following, it would also be used to determine how much progress students had made over the intervening 12 months.) Thus, even if the test is ready by the spring of 2000, fall administration of the test might be preferable from the standpoint of meeting educational needs.
Given the uncertainty about when an ELD test will be developed, we withhold recommendation on the $14 million to administer the test, pending the department's progress report during budget hearings. The department should establish that administration of the test in the budget year is both feasible and advisable to justify expenditure of $14 million in the budget year.
We recommend that the Legislature enact legislation to broaden the permissible uses of the $50 million annually appropriated by Proposition 227 in order to further the purpose of the proposition--to help public school children learn English as rapidly and effectively as possible.
In its opening "Findings and Declarations" section, Proposition 227 states ". . .it is resolved that: all children in California public schools shall be taught English as rapidly and effectively as possible." To this end the proposition requires that all California children in public schools be taught English by being taught in English. With specified exceptions schools are to teach English language learners in special classes that are taught nearly all in English, and to eliminate bilingual classes in most cases.
The proposition also requires the state to (1) encourage family members and others to provide personal English language tutoring to children from backgrounds of limited English proficiency, and (2) support these efforts by raising the general level of English language knowledge in the community. To support this, the proposition appropriates $50 million each year for ten years for "free or subsidized programs of adult English language instruction to parents or other members of the community who pledge to provide personal English language tutoring to California school children with limited English proficiency."
We believe that promoting English proficiency among adults is a worthwhile endeavor and contributes in the longer term to the acquisition of English by the children in the community. We believe, however, that the overall purpose of the proposition, to teach all children in our public schools English as rapidly and effectively as possible, would be furthered by allowing districts to select additional strategies for delivering English tutoring and other specialized assistance in English instruction to English language learner pupils.
During the joint hearing held in fall 1998 by the Senate and Assembly Education Committees on the implementation of Proposition 227, many school personnel spoke of the need for additional resources to effectively implement the proposition. Among the cited needs were:
We believe that these and other programs could help meet the proposition's objective of teaching children English as rapidly and effectively as possible. For example, if the language governing the proposition's appropriation were made more permissive through amendment, schools could pay for English language tutoring of pupils by tutors who already know English. This would be a particularly direct and effective way to deliver tutoring services to English language learners.
Proposition 227 specifically provides that the Legislature may amend the proposition through a bill (passed by two-thirds vote and signed by the Governor) to "further the act's purposes." In view of the above, we recommend that the Legislature enact legislation to broaden the permissible uses of the $50 million annually appropriated by Proposition 227.
We also note that, in the budget year, districts will have two years worth of funding to spend ( $100 million), due to a technical delay in the availability of the first $50 million authorized by the proposition. We believe that this doubling of funding in the budget year adds weight to our recommendation that districts have greater discretion as to how to spend the funds, as long as the spending advances the purpose of the proposition to help children learn English as rapidly and effectively as possible.
We recommend that the Legislature (1) amend the California Public School Library Act of 1998 and (2) add language to the Governor's "Classroom Libraries" proposal to allow schools to use the combined resources for these programs interchangeably. We recommend that the Legislature limit ongoing funding for school and classroom libraries to $83 million, based on national statistics of library material expenditures and discussions with school librarians. We further recommend that the balance of the proposed funding--a total of $101 million--be converted from ongoing to one-time funds.
The Governor's budget proposes $25 million for a new program to purchase books for "classroom libraries" in grades K-4 classrooms. The budget also includes $159 million for school libraries under the California Public School Library Act of 1998 (Chapter 332, Statutes of 1998 [AB 862 Ducheny]). This is the same amount approved for this purpose in the 1998-99 Budget Act. This program and the Classroom Library Program proposed in the budget, provide resources for very similar needs for K-4 students. In fact, for these students the only difference is in the physical location of the books within the school.
Combine Funding for School-Site Flexibility. Elementary schools are competent to decide where to place books to best meet their pupils' needs. We do
not believe they should be forced by state budgeting practice to allocate their library purchases in a way that is less than optimal for their pupils.
Accordingly, we recommend that the Legislature
(1) amend the California Public School Library Act of 1998 and (2) add language to the Governor's Classroom Library proposal to allow schools to use the combined resources for these programs interchangeably. Under this approach, resources will better match school-site needs.
Convert Portion of Funds to One-Time Funding. The $159 million included for school libraries is more than adequate to meet ongoing acquisition needs to maintain high quality school library collections. According to survey data from the School Library Journal, the national median expenditure for library materials by schools was approximately $13 per pupil in 1995-96. Most librarians we talked to felt between $10 and $20 per student would support high-quality libraries. Our recommendation of $15 falls in the middle of this range. We therefore recommend that the Legislature approve $83 million in the budget year for school libraries from ongoing Proposition 98 funds ($15 times 5.5 million average daily attendance [ADA]).
Given the lack of funds dedicated to school libraries in the early 1990s, there is justification for allocating additional funds to school libraries for a limited time period to let them "catch up." We therefore recommend that the remainder of the funds proposed for school libraries ($76 million) be allocated as one-time monies. Similarly, the Governor's proposal for $25 million for K-4 books would make most sense as a one-time appropriation. The $25 million represents supplemental elementary school book purchases of about $11 per K-4 ADA. Under our approach, in the budget year and beyond, elementary schools would have adequate funds for ongoing acquisition needs and complete flexibility to place books where most needed, whether in a classroom or in the library down the hall. This approach, in our view, assures an adequate level of ongoing library funding. It also increases the Legislature's options for addressing other K-12 priorities beyond the budget year and "freeing up" a total of over $101 million of ongoing Proposition 98 funds (school library plus classroom library funds).
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