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O'Connell Keeps Blasting Schwarzenegger Over Recent CALPADS and CalWORKS Vetoes

November 4, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell continues to issue a string of statements blasting recent vetoes by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On Monday, O’Connell announced that implementation of the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CALPADS), the state's longitudinal education data system, has led to great progress in enrolling eligible children for free meals without the need to complete any additional paperwork. O'Connell warned that further progress to efficiently enroll hungry students in school nutrition programs will be delayed as a result of the Governor's veto of funding for CALPADS.

“Since the integration of our school nutrition certification program with CALPADS last August, school districts have enrolled hundreds of thousands of eligible, hungry children in school nutrition programs,” O'Connell said.

“By utilizing CALPADS, districts were able to directly certify an additional 212,000 students for free meals in just three months, about a 47 percent increase from the previous year's total when the California Department of Education used a system other than CALPADS,” O’Connell said. “The students were immediately eligible for free, healthy lunches and breakfasts at school, and districts eliminated hundreds of thousands of pages of paperwork. The Governor's short-sighted veto of CALPADS funding means system improvements that could directly certify another 10 to 30 percent more students are now on hold.”

“Through direct certification using CALPADS, we were able to increase the number of students who qualified for free meals by 54 percent — that is significant in my book,” said Kathy Drennen, Director of Child Nutrition Services for Lincoln Unified School District. "CALPADS has increased accuracy and is saving us time and money. Because of CALPADS, we no longer have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to contact the students' parents or guardians in order to give them access to free or reduced-priced meals.”

O’Connell maintains that the Governor's veto of funding for CALPADS has put on hold the California Department of Education's plans for CALPADS enhancements that would allow between 70,000 and 200,000 additional students to be directly certified for free school meals in the coming year.

Last Friday, O'Connell issued a different statement announcing the California Department of Education (CDE) is directing its child care contractors to notify working poor families that child care services under the CalWORKS Stage 3 program will be extended to at least November 5, due to an order by the Superior Court of California in Alameda County.

O’Connell said that because of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of this funding, Stage 3 child care services were supposed to end on October 31. That action was challenged in the court case Parent Voices Oakland, et al. vs. Jack O'Connell, et al.

In a ruling on Oct. 29, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Wynne Carvill directed the CDE to notify its child care contractors of the extension of CalWORKS Stage 3 child care services to November 5. A hearing was set for November 4 in the same court, at which time the judge is expected to consider whether the Governor's veto eliminating all CalWORKS Stage 3 services to struggling parents and their children can be legally implemented.

O'Connell has strongly criticized the Governor for vetoing funding for the CalWORKS Stage 3 program, because it essentially forces working poor parents to make the difficult choice between obtaining safe, quality child care and work.

O'Connell has also chastised the Governor and his staff for telling panicked families who will lose child care services at the end of this month that there are plenty of other state-funded child care programs available. In fact, more than 187,000 children are already on long waiting lists for child care services. The Governor's veto added 54,000 more names to the waiting list — a nearly 30 percent increase. Each month, an additional 1,500 names will be added to the list of those children who would have moved from Stage 2 into Stage 3. Under CalWORKS, a family usually progresses from Stage 1 to Stage 3 as their employment situation stabilizes and working parents need help to cover the prohibitively high cost of child care in order to go to work and remain off public aid.

Source:  California Department of Education.