EdCal EdCalv46.18 - Page 3

February 15, 2016 EDCAL  3 Preschool block grant looms in budget In the 2016-17 state budget proposal released last month, the Brown Administration indicated $1.6 billion in existing Proposition 98 funding will be rolled into a new Early Education Block Grant. The intent is elimination of statutory requirements that guide current programs. Specifically, the proposal consolidates the California State Preschool Program ($880 million), Transitional Kindergarten ($725 million), and the Quality Rating Improvement System ($50 million), providing a hold harmless provision for local educational agencies (LEAs) currently administering these services. Gov. Brown is proposing to establish a priority system for implementing pre-kindergarten services that would accomplish the following goals: •  First priority would be for pre-kindergarten services for children from families with the lowest income, as defined locally, as well as homeless children, foster children, children with exceptional needs, children at risk for abuse and neglect, and English language learners. • Educational and social-emotional needs of young children in the local community should be taken into account when developing goals and curriculum for an LEA’s pre-kindergarten program. • Pre-kindergarten education shall be developmentally appropriate and delivered in a manner that engages young children. Services for pre-kindergarten pupils would include family engagement, screening for developmental disabilities, and referral to supportive health and social services. “The administration’s proposal to reimagine Early Childhood Education (ECE) offerings could serve as an opportunity to discuss ways to streamline existing administrative challenges and modify the eligibility structures to better align existing ECE options offered at local levels,” said Legislative Advocate Martha Alvarez. LEAs may appreciate the greater local financial flexibility to better align services with local needs, yet there have been initial concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the quality of programs, the role of nonLEA preschool providers, and the opportunity to continue the existing mixed delivery system supporting a universal approach achieved with Transitional Kindergarten, regardless of income status. Another significant consideration is that the ambitious goal of aligning existing ECE programs with the needs of the local communities is not matched by needed increases in funding that continues to fall short of pre-recession levels. “The proposed block grant is simply the repurposing of existing funding and does not provide new augmentations,” Alvarez said. In an effort to engage stakeholders, the Department of Finance is spearheading an input-gathering process for interested parties through both written feedback and in- person meetings in Sacramento on Feb. 19 and Feb. 29, with the intent to inform and shape a more detailed proposal to unveil in the May budget revision. The Department of Finance is looking for stakeholders to answer the following questions: • Which children should have priority for service under the Early Education Block Grant (EEBG)? •  What minimum standards should the state require of pre-kindergarten programs, i.e. teacher education and professional development, class size and teacher ratios, curriculum, environment/facilities, required minutes/length of day? •  How can LEAs utilize private providers to help support their prekindergarten programs?  Should private providers have a role in the EEBG? •  How should future funding augmentations to the EEBG be distributed among LEAs? • How should the state ensure EEBG funding supports positive child outcomes? ACSA is actively engaged in the deliberations to provide guidance on behalf its members. As this is the most significant policy proposal in next year’s budget, the GR team will look forward to receiving input from members throughout the state. ACSA will continue to keep you apprised of new information on this and other budget issues. To provide feedback or concerns on this proposal, submit written comments to Martha Alvarez at [email protected] AB 375 adds new sick leave benefits for bonding Gregory Dannis and Loren Carjulia with the law firm Dannis Woliver Kelley wrote the following article for EdCal. Assembly Bill 375 added section 44977.5 to the Education Code, effective Jan. 1, allowing certificated employees who have exhausted all available sick leave and continue to be absent while taking a maternity/ paternity leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA; Government Code section 12945.2) to receive differential pay for up to 12 school weeks. This “bonding leave,” is for the birth of a child or placement though adoption or foster care. AB 375 applies equally to male and female certificated employees (not classified) who wish to take a maternity or paternity leave and are eligible for leave under CFRA. To be eligible, the employee must ha ve at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12 months. An employee on CFRA bonding leave is entitled to differential pay only if she or he first exhausts all available and accumulated sick leave. The 12-week differential period is reduced by any period of sick leave. For example, an employee who uses six weeks of accumulated sick leave during bonding leave – assuming this exhausts available sick leave – is eligible for differential pay for the remaining six weeks of the 12-week period. An employee who elects not to exhaust sick leave during the bonding leave is ineligible for differential pay. This exhaustion requirement is a major departure from current CFRA law and most collective bargaining agreements, which do not allow sick leave to be used for the purpose of bonding leave. Employees may now unilaterally elect to utilize accumulated sick leave for bonding leave and, once exhausted, to receive differential pay for the balance of the 12 weeks. Differential pay during the 12-week leave period is defined as his/her salary Paid Advertisement minus the sum that is actually paid or would have been paid to a substitute employee to fill the position during the employee’s absence. AB 375 does not address the “50 percent pay rule” under which a teacher receives at least 50 percent of his or her salary, rather than the difference between his or her salary and the amount that would have been or was actually paid a substitute (Ed Code section 44983). We believe the specific language of EC 44977.5 prevails over the general language of section 44983. Therefore, districts that have adopted the 50 percent pay rule should nevertheless calculate differential pay using the “normal” calculation method in 44977.5. We believe AB 375 provides a 12-week entitlement in conjunction with CFRA leave in addition to any other differential pay provided under preexisting statutes. Thus, employees who exhaust their normal five months of differential pay are also entitled to up to 12 weeks of differential pay for bonding purposes under AB 375. An employee is only provided one See AB 375, page 8 For those who attended the annual Superintendents’ Symposium during the last week of January, we were privileged to experience an atmosphere of collaboration and learning. There were exceptional keynote speakers, breakout sessions led by national and state leaders, and a bit of rap, dab and dance led by symposium chair and courageous leader Darryl Adams. With the Portola Hotel under construction, we met in a large circus-like tent outside the hotel. There were some technical glitches and times when it appeared the tent might lift off, and we would find ourselves in the Land of Oz. However, we were blessed with good weather, and the symposium was a big hit. The ACSA Educational Services team took the challenge from Darryl and courageously broke from tradition, starting the conference early Wednesday morning with a great session in a question and answer format with students from the California Association of Student Councils. It was both stimulating and challenging to hear directly from students about topics such as LCAP, new state standards, testing, good teachers and administrators and not so good teachers and administrators. Once again ACSA purposefully reminded us why we do what we do, with students front and center to start the symposium. And keynote speakers rocked our world, including John Couch from Apple; Kim Papillon, expert on medical, legal and judicial decision making; Howard Charney from Cisco; researcher/trainer Bob Marzano; as well as Ron Bennett from School Services and Kevin Gordon of Capitol Advisors with a state budget update. Topics centered around the future of technology in our schools, equity and diversity, school finance, school reform and best practices for student learning. Yet, for me and other colleagues I spoke with, the highlight of the conference was the learning groups facilitated by state and national leaders, providing an opportunity for superintendents to learn from each other and collaborate on best practices. I was once again privileged as your state president to attend the Women’s Leadership Breakfast and hear from a past colleague and courageous leader, Debbra Lindo, former superintendent in Emery School District. Debbra shared her Top 10 lessons learned, which were thought-provoking and so very powerful for those of us fortunate to attend the breakfast and hear her speak. For those ready to learn, the symposium provided more opportunity than any year I can think of in the past. I would like to thank the planning team and, in particular, Darryl Adams (a little dab to the left, a little dab to the right), Chris Adams and the entire ACSA team for the incredible job they did to make the 2016 ACSA Superintendents’ Symposium ground breaking. Lastly, I want to thank our Executive Director Wes Smith, who understands as a leader the importance of allowing your staff to take risks and experiment to expand opportunities for learning. I can’t wait to see what they will have in store for us all next year!   – Tom Armelino