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May Budget Revision

Brown Pulls Back on Plan to Shift of Adult Education Programs to Community Colleges

May 23, 2013

Much of the coverage of last week’s release of Gov. Brown’s May Budget Revision focused on the inclusion of $1 billion in one-time funding to implement the Common Core academic standards, and the Governor’s continued dedication to his Local Control Funding Formula for education.

Somewhat obscured in the hubbub surrounding the May Budget Revision’s rollout was the Governor’s shift from his initial January budget proposal regarding adult education programs, which have long been offered by many K-12 school districts. In January, the Governor proposed transferring responsibility for most adult ed programs to the community college system. But in the May Budget Revision, the Governor stepped back from that stance, at least in the short term.

Adonai Mack, legislative analyst with the Association of California School Administrators, offered this take on the Governor’s change in position:

In a dramatic turn of events, the governor has dropped his proposal to shift adult education to community colleges. Instead the governor proposes to maintain status quo for a minimum of two years.

During the two-year moratorium, the governor expects K-12 school districts and community colleges to collaborate on a “regional adult education consortium.” Further, districts must maintain their current level of spending for adult education in 2013-14 and 2014-15 in order to receive future funding.

The new collaborative will consist of the following characteristics:

• $30 million provided for planning and implementation grants.
• $500 million proposed to fund these consortia jointly operated by community colleges and school districts beginning in 2015-16.
• Regional consortia may also include workforce investment boards, correctional facilities and community-based organizations.
• Planning grants awarded jointly to consortia by CDE and community colleges chancellor’s office.
• At least $350 million must be allocated to existing adult education providers.
• Funding prioritized to critical instruction areas. These include English as a second language, citizenship, high school diploma, GED and workplace education. 
• Instruction in parenting, home economics and programs for older adults will not be eligible for funding. 
• Consortia are required to develop course-sequencing pathways that move adult learners seamlessly from completing their adult education programs to their next endeavor. 

In addition, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), said:

Promising Plan for Adult Education. We believe the May Revision adult education proposal is much better than the Governor’s January proposal. By proposing a regional delivery model, the new plan would create a strong incentive for adult–education providers to leverage their relative strengths and improve collaboration. By conditioning the bulk of new base funding on providers maintaining at least their current level of service, the May Revision also would create an incentive for providers to continue offering adult education programs in 2013–14 and 2014–15. We think the two–year planning time frame is reasonable. During this preparation period, providers would have an opportunity to identify program needs and create aligned curricula. At the same time, the Legislature, CDE, and the CCC Chancellor’s Office could be addressing state–level issues in support of the regional consortia, such as developing a common course numbering system for adult education and deciding on the amount of funds each region would be eligible to apply for beginning in 2015–16. While we agree with the overall approach proposed by the Governor, we recommend the Legislature provide more flexibility for providers to organize themselves (for example, by allowing the Chancellor’s Office to pass through funds to school districts if they are interested in being a consortium’s fiscal agent).

Sources:  ACSA, LAO.