Capitol Update 8/14/14

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August 14, 2014

Tomorrow, August 15, is the final fiscal committee deadline for bills to be sent to the Assembly or Senate floor. This means that today both houses held their Appropriations Committee Suspense hearings. Bills that have a cost to the state of over $150,000 are placed on the suspense file. Action on these bills is then delayed (or suspended) until the suspense hearing, when bills are either released and sent to the floor or held on the file and do not move forward. 

AB 948 (Olsen) Moves Forward To Senate Floor

Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee released our sponsored legislation AB 948 (Olsen), relating to charter school facilities from the suspense file on a unanimous 5-0 vote. AB 948 will increase eligibility for the SB 740 Charter Schools Facility Grant Program by lowering the Free or Reduced Price Lunch threshold from 70% to 60% and thus more schools will be able to benefit from this critical program. We will continue to push for additional amendments over the next week. The bill now moves to the Senate Floor for consideration. AB 948’s last stop before heading to Governor Jerry Brown will be the Assembly Floor for concurrence in Senate amendments.

This outcome is the direct result of our collective advocacy work in the field and in Sacramento. In the field, charter school leaders met with legislators and staff to stress the importance of this legislation. Charter school parents, teachers, students and supporters also engaged in letter-writing and phone-calling campaigns. Great work!

While AB 948 moves forward, there are still two bills were are strongly opposed to that are moving through the legislative process. Please fill out our action alerts in opposition to AB 913 (Chau), relating to charter school conflict of interest, and SB 1263 (Pavley), relating to the location of charter school facilities.

California State Controller Request for Employee Salary and Benefit Information

In February, the California State Controller sent letters to every County Office of Education, school district and charter school throughout the state requesting salary and benefit information for every school employee. The State Controller’s office has sent follow up letters (viewable here) and has asked us to follow up with another reminder to our members to send this information.

The request is part of an expansion to an existing state public compensation website -publicpay.ca.gov - which currently includes salary and benefit information for public employees employed by the state, counties, cities, special districts, and state colleges and universities. The website is designed to increase government transparency and accountability for the citizens of California.

It should be noted that California courts have held that the salary and benefit information for the employees of a public agency is considered a public record and must be made available under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). In addition, the tax returns (Form 990) of Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations require disclosure of the compensation for officers, directors, trustees and key employees of the organization, and are available upon request by the public.

Most charter schools comply with the CPRA as a result of provisions in their charter petitions, memoranda of understanding (MOU) or school policies with authorizers. CCSA has consistently recommended that charter schools comply with the CPRA. While the State Controller's demand for information is not clearly a public records request, the salary and benefits information would likely be subject to such a request.

CCSA, therefore, encourages our charter school members to respond to the State Controller's request in a timely manner. As always, if charter schools have specific concerns or questions about how best to respond to the State Controller's request based on their specific governance structure and operations, we suggest that they consult their attorneys for advice.

You can find reporting instructions and templates on the State Controller’s website. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please contact the State Controller’s Government Compensation in California unit at GCCSupport@sco.ca.gov or (916) 445-5153.