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Current Legislative Updates

2006-2007 Legislative Updates

Please contact Jeff Frost if you would like additional information on any of these bills, or on bills not included in this report, (jfrost3@sbcglobal.net).

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CASP Legislative Reports

May 2007 Prepared by:
Jim Russell, Legislative Chairperson
Jeff Frost, Lobbyist

May ‘07 Revision To The Budget Unveiled

The Governor has unveiled his May Revision to the 2007-08 State budget. The revision is based upon a determination that General Fund revenues will increase by $1.66 billion in the current year over the amount forecast in January. Revenues for the 2007-08 fiscal year are estimated to decline by a mere $24 million. The May Revision fully funds Prop 98 in both the current and budget years. Additionally, the May Revise includes ongoing and new support for the expansion of Career Technical Education and teachers and counselors to ensure that the many students who directly enter the work force are educated and prepared to succeed. The May Revision also includes a one-time School Safety Initiative that focuses on the development and deployment of state-of-the art systems, training, and preparation.

The 2007-08 May Revision has committed to fully funding the Proposition 98 guarantee to schools and cost-of-living and enrollment growth. The statutory COLA for 2007-08 is 4.53 percent, exceeding the governor’s January budget estimate of 4.04 percent by almost one-half percent. This is an increase of $226.8 million for the increase to both revenue limits and special education COLAs. Additionally, the May Revise provides a Prop 98 increase of $35.9 million and a Federal Fund increase of $7.6 million over amounts proposed in the Governor’s Budget. These changes include adjustments for revised figures for local property tax and ADA growth.

The Governor also expands several of his initiatives outlined in the January budget and creates several more. He expands programs for career technical education counselors and for career technical education equipment purchases. The may Revise also funds an expansion of the California Fresh Start Program, increases meal reimbursement and the breakfast start-up program. Additionally, the Governor proposes to expand pre-kindergarten literacy programs and increase student safety by creating a number of safety initiatives and providing funding to hire school resource officers.

However, on the non-Prop 98 side of the budget the Governor is prosing a number of budget reductions including suspending the COLA for Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program. These proposed reductions have not been received well by the Democratic members of the Legislature and will make a final resolution to the budget difficult.

State Board Adopts Changes to the Waiver Process For CAHSEE

SB 267, passed by the Legislature last year, required that by June 1, 2007, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, with the approval of the state board, must recommend to the Legislature a course of action to adopt regarding pupils with disabilities who have met all other state and local graduation requirements but who are unable to satisfy the CAHSEE requirement or obtain a waiver of the requirement under Education Code Section 60851 (c). At the May meeting of the Board, Superintendent Jack O’Connell made a recommendation to change the current waiver process in Education Code section 60851 (c). The final action of the SBE was to unanimously adopt Superintendent O’Connell’s recommendation to change the waiver process but the board took no other actions related to accommodations for students with special needs or to approve a certificate of completion.

The recommended changes to the current waiver process would require the school principal, rather than the parent, to submit a request to waive the requirement for successful passage of the CAHSEE for a pupil with disabilities who has taken the exam with modifications that alter what the test measures. The recommendation also calls for an expedited appeal process to the SBE in any case where there has been a denial of any waiver request. The district shall submit documentation to the SBE within 15 days of the determination that the pupil did not meet the criteria described in 60851 (c) (1) (A) or (B). The SBE shall review the denial of the waiver no later than the next regularly scheduled board meeting. If the Board finds that the student did meet the criteria the Board may require the district to grant the waiver.

This recommendation will be submitted to the legislature and is likely to be included in SB 123 (Romero). In its current form, SB 123 includes a requirement for districts to develop alternative means of satisfying the requirements of the CAHSEE including the utilization of juried assessment as a method for determining whether students with special needs should be granted a diploma. SB 123 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

During the February meeting, CASP had recommended maintaining the CAHSEE waiver process but suggested making a few modifications to include other, more specific requirements, such as: 1) Adding a provision that requires that if a student meets all of the current criteria, the local board shall grant a waiver; 2) Adding an appeal provision to the wavier that would require the local board, when it denies a local waiver, to submit the student’s request to the SBE for review; and 3) Requiring SBE review of an appeal to occur in a timely manner.

CASP Supported Bills In Appropriations Committee Suspense Files

Two important bills being supported by CASP have been heard by the Appropriations Committees of their respective houses and are being held in the Suspense Files until the end of May when a final Suspense File hearing will be held. CASP is working to make sure these bill do not die in the Suspense File but the cost of the bills creates significant difficulty. These bills include:

SB 288 (Yee) – Pupil Learning Support Services Pilot Program
SB 288, which is sponsored by CASP and the other members of the Pupil Services Coalition, would establish the Comprehensive Pupil Learning Support System pilot program with the goal of ensuring that each pupil will be a productive and responsible learner and citizen. The pilot schools would be required to fully integrate a full range of student services to ensure that all the needs of the student are addressed and supported. The bill would provide the resources to these pilot school sites that will enable the school to develop a coordinated and comprehensive approach by enabling the classroom teacher to work cooperatively with school psychologists, counselors, social workers and other pupil personnel services on the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs of the student. This bill would require up to $2 million to fully fund a multi-year pilot program.

AB 850 (Torrico) – Special Education COLA Formula Change
This bill will ensure special education programs receive an equivalent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and growth funding as provided to revenue limits and other categorical programs. Local school agencies have become the payer of last resort when the federal government and the state fail to provide funding increases to keep pace with growing special education costs primarily driven by new state and federal mandates. The recent change in how the state calculates COLA and growth for special education exacerbates this situation as special education programs are now only getting 70% of what other categorical programs will receive. AB 850 will simply ensure that school agencies are not solely responsible for the shortfall in funding of the COLA and enrollment growth by requiring the state to provide an equivalent amount of funding as it does for revenue limits and other categorical programs. Implementation of this proposal would cost upwards of $47 million to fund the federal special education COLA.

CASP Sponsored Bill Creating A Pupil Services Block Grant In Print

In 2007, one of the highest legislative priorities was the introduction of a bill to create a Pupils Services Block Grant. AB 68 (Dymally) was amended on April 17, 2007 to create this grant program. A Pupil Support Services Block Grant would add additional funding, in the form of a discretionary block grant to each district, to complement the existing School Counseling Program created in 2006. Allowing additional funding will help ensure that school districts in need of additional school psychologists, counselors, nurses, speech-language pathologists and audiologists, social workers, resource specialists and special education teachers will have the ability to fill that need. Due to the lateness of the amendments and the reality that there is virtually no discretionary Prop 98 funding available for this program, CASP has made the bill a two-year bill. We will be working to have the Assembly Education Committee hold an interim hearing on the topic in the fall and then the bill will be formally heard in the Education Committee in January 2008.

Resolution of SB 1475 Changes To LEP Requirements Nears

In 2006, the legislature passed and the Governor signed SB 1475 that was an omnibus clean up of a number of business and professions codes. Within this bill were changes to two significant requirements for licensed educational psychologists. CASP had two concerns with the changes in SB 1475. The first concern was a change to section 4989.29 (a) (5), which stated that for an applicant for a license as an educational psychologist, that applicant “shall not be credited with experience obtained more than six years prior to filing the application for licensure.” This requirement was troubling for CASP members, many of whom began working for school districts after their internships and under this new requirement, would not be credited with the experience if they sought a license after that six year period. The second concern was in section 4989.34 where, as a part of the license renewal requirement, an LEP shall certify completion of 60 hours of approved continuing education.

After realizing these changes had been made in the law, CASP has worked with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) and its staff to resolve these issues. At its May 31, 2007, meeting, the Board will hear a request by the staff for changes in both of these sections. In section 4989.20, the staff is recommending the following changes:

(5) Two years of full-time or the equivalent experience as a credentialed school psychologist in the public schools. The applicant shall not be credited with such experience obtained more than six years prior to filing the application for licensure.

(6) One of the following:
(A) One year of supervised professional experience in an accredited school psychology program; or,
(B) In additional to paragraph (5), one year of full time or the equivalent experience as a credentialed school psychologist in the public schools obtained under the direction of a licensed educational psychologist.

In section 4989.34, the staff is recommending that the requirement for 60 hours of continuing education be reduced to 36 hours.

CASP is supporting these proposed changes by the BBS and will work with their staff to seek amendments to a bill moving in the 2007 session of the legislature. If this effort is successful, these proposed changes will become law on January 1, 2008.

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