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NEA Gives Brown “Education Governor” Award

Governor Signs Budget Bills, Launching Reorganization of Funding for K-12 Schools

July 11, 2013

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the new state budget on June 27 in Sacramento, ushering in the new Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) that will reorganize funding for K-12 education.

“California’s finances are in very solid shape for the first time in a decade,” said Governor Brown, “We’re making significant investments in the things Californians care most about – the education of our children and adequate health care.”

Significant aspects of the 2013-14 state budget (approved in mid-June by California legislators) include:

School Funding Reform 
The budget adds $2.1 billion for first-year implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula – which replaces today’s overly complex, inefficient and inequitable finance system for California’s K-12 schools. Districts will receive a per-pupil base grant, a supplemental grant based upon the number of students who are English learners, students from low-income families and foster youth and a concentration grant for districts with over 55 percent of this targeted population.

Energy Efficiency 
The budget invests significantly in improving energy efficiency at California’s K-12 schools and community colleges by directing $381 million in Proposition 39 funds to K-12 schools and $47 million for community colleges.

Multi-Year Funding Plan for Higher Education 
The budget establishes the first-year investment in a multi-year stable funding plan for the University of California and the California State University systems. Each system will receive a 5 percent increase of $125.1 million – the first stage of a four-year funding schedule that will result in a 20 percent general fund increase for the systems. The systems will also receive $125 million in 2013-14 for not increasing student tuition and fees in 2012-13. The budget also provides a year-over-year increase of $228.6 million in general fund dollars and local property taxes for California Community Colleges.

The Governor signed several additional bills relating to K-12 education on July 1st:
• AB 86 by the Committee on Budget – Education finance: education omnibus trailer bill.
• AB 94 by the Committee on Budget – Education finance: higher education.
• AB 97 by the Committee on Budget – School finance.
• SB 91 by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review – School finance.

(For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html).

At a signing ceremony at Cahuenga Elementary School in Los Angeles, the Governor was joined by legislative, education, business and civil rights leaders, including Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. Governor Brown also appeared later in the day at California Middle School in Sacramento with Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

“Our disadvantaged students deserve more resources to overcome the extra obstacles they face, and this formula does just that. At the same time, we’re investing more resources in all of our students, and building on proven programs of career technical education and partnership academies to keep our students engaged and give them better preparation for college and careers,” said Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. “This dramatic shift in funding allows our schools to target investment where it’s needed most. By empowering our students for success, we pave the way for a stronger California.”

Under the 2013-14 budget and the Local Control Funding Formula, schools will receive an increase in funds, with the neediest students and districts receiving enhanced aid under the legislation. The budget includes $2.1 billion for first-year implementation of these reforms.

When fully implemented over an eight year phase in, it is projected that the formula will spend 84 cents of each dollar on base grants for every district, 10 cents in supplemental funding for every English learner, student from a low income family or foster child in a district and 6 cents for those districts that have a particularly high concentration of these students.

By shifting state funds from categorical grants – money tied to complex state mandates that limit how schools can use the funds – to the new per-pupil base, supplemental and concentration grants, the legislation aims to increase the ability of local districts to decide how state money can be used. Each school district, charter school and county office of education will produce a local control and accountability plan that will set annual goals and describe how the local agency would use available resources.

In addition to LCFF, the Governor also signed legislation establishing a Middle Class Scholarship program to make college more affordable for middle-income Californians. Under the new program, resident students whose families earn between $100,000 and $150,000 will be eligible for reduced fees at the University of California and California State University. Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, eligible students could see mandatory system wide tuition reduced by up to 40 percent under the new program in combination with other sources of aid.

“This is a great victory for higher education and middle class families in California, and a huge first step in keeping college affordable,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, who authored the bill. “For the past 10 years, the middle class has been increasingly squeezed out of our public universities because of skyrocketing tuition rates, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades. This legislation will ensure that California maintains a healthy middle class and an educated workforce to keep our economy strong.”

On July 5, the National Education Association (NEA) presented Governor Brown with the Association’s “America’s Greatest Education Governor Award.” The annual award recognizes governors who have “demonstrated exemplary achievements and accomplishments in advancing public education.”

“When times got tough in California, Gov. Brown resisted the temptation to balance the state’s budget on the backs of students and educators,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Instead, he made the tough choices and the right decisions, investing in and strengthening public education and helping students and families who need the most support. His approach to governing the Golden State is refreshing at a time when many politicians across the country are doing the opposite of what Gov. Brown is doing.”

“Students and families will reap the benefits of Gov. Brown’s initiatives for years to come,” said Van Roekel. “The state and our country will be stronger and more competitive as a result of the choices he’s making today.”

Brown accepted the honor, saying “Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children. It's an honor to accept this award on behalf of the educators working every day to make our public schools better and our future brighter.”

NEA created the “America's Greatest Education Governor Award” in 2008 to annually recognize and honor governors who have made major strides at the state level to improve public schools. Other recipients of the award include, Governors Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Michael F. Easley of North Carolina.

Sources: Governor’s Press Office, National Education Association, EdBrief staff.