New charter rules slipped into budget bill

New charter rules slipped into budget bill

(Calif.) Rather than risk a high-profile battle in open session, legislative leaders and Gov. Gavin Newsom have decided it is best to tuck some charter school reform measures inside a budget bill.

AB 75, the omnibus trailer bill covering education finance directives, would also provide authorizers of charter schools authority to include the fiscal health of the charter as part of its oversight role.

The bill also includes language that would explicitly prohibit charter schools from discouraging “a pupil from enrolling or seeking to enroll in the charter school for any reason, including, but not limited to, academic performance of the pupil.”

Finally, the bill also forbids charter schools from requesting “a pupil’s records or require a parent, guardian, or pupil to submit the pupil’s records to the charter school before enrollment.”

Lawmakers have left for another day a number of other controversial charter restrictions—including an outright cap on charter growth and a statewide moratorium on establishing new charters.

Placing more restrictions on charters and imposing additional accountability requirements has for many years split California’s Democratic Party. And while charter opponents—which generally includes Newsom—probably have the upper hand in Sacramento, moving stand-alone charter reform bills has proved problematic.

By placing at least some new charter mandates within the education trailer bill, a majority of Democrats almost certainly will have no choice but to fall in line and support the legislation.

Other highlights of the education budget package include:

  • $300 million for full-day kindergarten facilities to be allocated over three years and to be used for teacher training, new instructional materials or to help in the cost of building new facilities.
  • $50 million in ongoing funding to support after school programs.
  • $38.1 million for the Educator Workforce Investment Grant and establish the Golden State Teacher Grant Program

Next year’s budget is also set to reduce the state’s $256 billion retirement liability for both state workers and teachers.

In addition to $3 billion provided to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, there’s another $1.1 billion to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Also, the budget includes $3.15 billion for school districts to help with the escalating cost of their portion of retirement benefits.

Newsom has also insisted that lawmakers agree on setting aside a significant amount of money in reserve—about $20 billion—to help the state prepare for the next recession.

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