Capitol Update 6/12/14

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June 12, 2014

California’s Budget deliberations have been occurring all week and will go down to the wire this weekend. Both the Assembly and Senate are holding floor sessions to vote on the budget on Sunday, June 15. The Legislature has until midnight on June 15 to pass a budget or they risk losing their paychecks.

At the same time, legislative policy committees are hard at work deliberating legislation prior to the June 27 policy committee deadline. The next two weeks will be very busy as we actively oppose legislation that is harmful to charter schools.

Oppose Senate Bill 1263 (Pavley): Restrictions on Charter School Locations

Stand up for California's charter schools and make your voice heard today!

Senate Bill 1263 (Pavley) will be heard in the Assembly Education Committee on June 25This bill will create new and oppressive facilities barriers for charter schools by no longer allowing charter schools to locate outside of their district in instances where they are unable to locate an acceptable in-district facility.

This exception has provided a valuable backstop for charter schools with difficult or unique facilities challenges within their district of authorization. By completely removing this allowance, SB 1263 removes critical flexibility that charter schools currently utilize to overcome facilities challenges.

SB 1263 is a piecemeal approach to addressing authorizing issues. Administrative and legal remedies should be exhausted by schools and districts and not legislation that will negatively impact and eliminate flexibility for ALL charter schools.

We urge you to take action now and contact the Assembly Education Committee to express your opposition to SB 1263 to ensure this bill does not move forward.

TAKE ACTION TODAY!

Thank you to all of the charter school supporters who filled out last week’s Action Alert opposing AB 913 (Chau). If you have not already, we urge you to fill out the Action Alert to oppose AB 913 (Chau) related to charter school conflict of interest. It’s quick and simple to make your voice heard!

Budget Update

The Budget Conference Committee met on Wednesday night to take action on remaining issues in the education budget. Their actions appear to reflect agreement between legislative leadership and Governor Brown on both spending levels and priorities. The Legislature agreed to apply the Governor’s May Revision projections for total Proposition 98 spending, rather than apply the much higher revenue estimates proposed by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (See CCSA’s May Revision Budget Brief). However, the Legislature made several changes to the spending plan to reflect some of their top priorities for education.

The most significant change from the Governor’s proposal is a reduction in the deferral buy-back plan to provide resources for other legislative priorities. Under the Budget Committee’s adopted plan, approximately $1 billion in deferrals would remain for 2014-15, instead, funds would be allocated to mandate reimbursement ($450 million) additional LCFF implementation ($250 million), Career pathways Trust ($250 million) preschool/child-care ($155 million). The plan also includes a “trigger” to payback more deferrals if additional revenues become available during the year.

The specifics of these actions are not yet available. Standard practice around this time of year is the release of budget trailer bills that contain implementing language necessary to enact the main budget bill. Unfortunately, sometimes these bills contain major policy changes as a result of budget negotiations and are released with little to no time for public input. We will keep you informed as details emerge.

Legislative Update

In other legislative news, the California Teachers Association and EdVoice’s negotiated bill on teacher firing in cases of egregious misconduct, AB 215 (Buchanan), was approved on the Assembly Floor today. AB 215 now heads to the Governor’s office for consideration, and Governor Brown is expected to sign the bill.

Vergara Case

This week, the State Superior Court in Los Angeles County released a tentative decisions in the Vergara case. This case challenged a number of laws related to teacher assignment, tenure and dismissal as having a disproportionate and negative impact on the higher needs pupils in California.

The judge found all of the provisions that were challenged to be unconstitutional. The impact of the recent result of the Vergara case is unclear at this point because an appeal of the decision is still possible, and the Legislature may need to enact new laws to address the decision.  We do note that no matter the ultimate outcome of the case, Vergara will likely have little practical impact charter schools unless the school participates in collective bargaining.

The case may have more of an impact on dependent charter schools, since some of those schools default to the authorizer employment rules, including the affected statutes and collective bargaining agreements.

SB 740 Charter School Facility Grant Program Regulations Approved

On Wednesday, the California School Finance Authority (CSFA) approved final regulations on the SB 740 Charter School Facility Grant Program. These regulations will now head to the Office of Administrative Law for final approval and adoption. We strongly suggest you review these regulations with a specific eye for the deadlines listed in the regulations. We greatly appreciate the generosity CSFA has shown thus far in approving appeals for late applications due to the transfer of the program from the California Department of Education and we want to emphasize the importance of meeting the regulatory deadlines.

Advisory Commission on Charter Schools Results

The Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) met yesterday and ACCS recommended approval of Thrive Public School, which was denied by San Diego Unified School District and the San Diego County Office of Education. Thrive now heads to the State Board of Education for a final hearing in July.