Education Week - February 18, 2015 - (Page 14)

GOVeRNMeNT & POLiTiCs Calif. Districts Seeking $1 Billion to Fund Testing Mandate Claim could muddy common core debut By Andrew Ujifusa A push by four California school districts to increase state funding for standardized assessments could complicate the state's rollout of the common core and aligned tests, as well as provide an early challenge for a revamped school finance system that is not yet two years old. The Plumas, Porterville, Santa Ana, and Vallejo unified districts, along with the Plumas County Office of Education, are seeking at least $1 billion in additional annual statewide funding for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress. That system includes new tests that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The districts argue that since the state requires these assessments, it must reimburse the districts' costs for administering them. The California Commission on State Mandates, which hears claims of unfunded state mandates, has tentatively scheduled a May 29 hearing on the matter. Finding the Funds The districts are using a so-called "mandate test claim" under the state constitution in an attempt to show that the state mandate has imposed a new program or higher level of service at the local level, and has concurrently imposed higher costs on districts. If the claim is successful, the state mandate commission determines a statewide funding amount to satisfy the claim, and state government subsequently decides how to appropriate that funding. Several other states, including Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Jersey, have similar statutory or constitutional provisions. In their mandate test claim, the districts argue that the costs associated with the state testing regimen " By not providing us with the necessary resources to implement the [tests], we are forced to forgo funding for other important programs." JOHN SNAVELY Superintendent, Porterville Unified School District range from reporting test results to parents to new devices for students. The claim covers fiscal years 2014 and 2015. In a Jan. 28 statement provided by the California School Boards Association, which is supporting the districts' claim, Santa Ana Superintendent Rick Miller said the various costs associated with common-core-aligned tests designed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium would come to about $12 million in his district. In the favor of the districts, it would then specify the amount owed by the state to satisfy the testing mandate. California lawmakers, in turn, would decide how to appropriate that funding. Josh Daniels, an attorney for the school boards association, said because of the timing of the hearing and uncertainty about when a decision will be made, the association is telling districts not to assume that any mandate reimbursement would take place in fiscal 2016. "It would be fantastic if the goverunusual for California districts to file such claims. While Mr. Zeiger didn't fundamentally dispute the districts' claim in this case, he did note that the state has provided support to districts for general implementation of the common core. Over the last two budgets signed by Gov. Brown, a Democrat, the state has set aside more than $1.5 billion intended to help districts implement the standards. In theory, some of that money could have been used by districts to full claim filed last month, the district reported that over two years, it would spend $8.1 million on new electronic devices, and $3.3 million in bandwidth and other infrastructure improvements associated with the state's mandated tests. Also in the statement, John Snavely, the superintendent of the 13,500-student Porterville Unified district, said: "By not providing us with the necessary resources to implement the [tests], we are forced to forgo funding for other important programs." If the state commission finds in nor were to recognize the constitutional obligations and address it in his May revise," said Mr. Daniels, referring to the revised fiscal 2016 budget plan that Gov. Jerry Brown is due to release in May. But he added that since the revised budget is expected to come out before the commission holds its hearing on the districts' claim, "I don't know if that is likely." A Complicated Answer Richard Zeiger, the chief deputy superintendent of the California education department, said it isn't pay for the associated cost of common-core testing. "Has the state paid for it? Has it paid for it adequately? ... The answer to that is going to be complicated," Mr. Zeiger said, adding that because it can take years to settle such mandate claims by districts, "the pressure kind of works both ways." Due to the recent shift to online assessments, such as the Smarter Balanced tests, Mr. Zeiger said the state has not updated its estimate of how much state assessments actually cost districts to administer. The creation of a new state funding stream for tests in response to the districts' mandate claim could run contrary to the intent of the state's Local Control Funding Formula. Lawmakers approved that funding system in 2013 and eliminated many of the state's "categorical programs" that dedicated funds to certain staterequired K-12 programs. The formula also gave districts more control over the use of state funds. While California has a particularly robust process for dealing with mandate claims, several states have similar statutes or sections of their state constitutions that districts have put to use, although they vary greatly in scope and purpose. A 2012 American Law Reports review found that districts in Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Hampshire have sued for more state funding for mandates. One prominent case, Adair v. Michigan, related to data districts were required to PAGE 20 > Obama, Congress Set to Clash on FY16 Budget By Lauren Camera President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2016 budget request marks the opening bid in what will likely be a messy spending battle over how to fund the government, including the U.S Department of Education and federal education programs, when its purse empties Oct. 1. Notably, the president's pitch to Congress includes an overall 7 percent hike in discretionary spending, ignoring sequester-level caps, the funding limits set by lawmakers in 2011. Under the request, the Education Department would be funded to the tune of $70.7 billion, a 5.4 percent, $3.6 billion hike over current appropriation levels. "I'm not going to accept a budget that locks in sequestration going forward," the president said in remarks Feb. 2 after unveiling his budget. "It would be bad for our security and bad for our growth." The budget proposal is a shot across the bow of the newly minted Republican Congress, which has promised to both fund the government through the regular appropriations process and be aggressive in trimming back federal spending. Indeed, House Republicans' most-recent budgets proposed further lowering spending caps by as much as 8 percent. Still, that didn't stop Mr. Obama from requesting money for a slew of new education programs and, for the first time in two years, pitching significant increases for major formula grants, such as Title I for low-income students and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. For the last two years, the president's budget request proposed level-funding several mainstay education programs that funnel money to every district by formula, instead seeking to push more resources into its signature competitive grants. Boosting Title I This year's request, however, seeks major increases for some of those formula grants. Title I would see a $1 billion hike to $15.4 billion; idea would get a modest increase of $175 million, bringing the program to $11.7 billion; and English-Language Acquisition grants, which haven't seen an increase in years, would receive a $135 million boost to nearly $775 million. The budget also seeks to continue a host of programs that the Obama administration has put on the chopping block in previous years, including the nearly $50 million Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program, the nearly $30 million Advanced Placement program, and the $25 million Arts in Education program. 14 | EDUCATION WEEK | February 18, 2015 | WHERE FUNDING WOULD GO U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan explained during a press call earlier this month that the president's proposed increased investments in core K-12 programs are an acknowledgement of Congress working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. "The last time esea was reauthorized, there was an emphasis on devoting more resources, but it came up short," Mr. Duncan said. "We can't let that happen again." The president is also proposing a sizeable increase of more than $30 million, or about 34 percent, for the Education Department's office for civil rights to hire hundreds of new employees to investigate civil rights complaints. The office is currently funded at about $100 million, and recently has been issuing civil rights guidance on everything from single-gender programs to resource equity. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Head Start program, which operates early-childhood-education programs for low-income children, would see a $1 billion increase, in part to help programs extend the school day and year. The budget request would also include the president's previous $75 billion, 10-year proposal to significantly expand preschool PAGE 20 > Financial-aid programs, including Pell Grants, which help low-income students afford college, make up the single largest funding category in President Barack Obama's $70.7 billion discretionary budget request for the U.S. Department of Education in fiscal year 2016. SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education 16% Special Education 22% Title I 32% Pell/ Student aid 30% All other programs

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - February 18, 2015

Schools Weighing Access To Social Media Passwords
Education Week - February 18, 2015
Measles Outbreak Cues Action On Vaccine Rules
States Shedding Power To Adopt Class Materials
Those Opposing Restraint and Seclusion Gain New Traction With State Legislatures
New Venture to Evaluate Technology
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Global Skills Study Finds U.S. Millennials Trailing
Broad Foundation Puts Urban Schools Prize On Hold Indefinitely
Blogs of the Week
FCC Plan for ‘Net Neutrality’ Addresses Schools’ Needs
Calif. Districts Seeking $1 Billion To Fund Testing Mandate
Obama, Congress Set to Clash On FY16 Budget
GOP in Driver’s Seat as Congress Tackles NCLB Rewrite
NCLB-Waiver Renewal Gears Up; Duncan Holds Weakened Hand
Blogs of the Week
State of the States
FRANK D. LoMONTE: Don’t Silence Young (Female) Journalists
KAREN HAWLEY MILES: Why Annual State Testing Makes Cents
JANE HIRSCHI: ‘Hands in the Dirt’ Learning
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
GILLIAN McGOLDRICK: When Morality and Law Trump School Tradition

Education Week - February 18, 2015