CCAE: Adult Ed Block Grant Package Signed by the Governor

From CCAE – California Council for Adult Education – Legislative Analyst Dawn Koepke:
 
Adult Ed Block Grant Package Signed by the Governor
 
Today we breathe a sigh of relief that the future of adult education, particularly with regard to adult schools, will be much brighter and more stable going forward.  The Legislature took the Governor’s May Revise budget proposal and ran with it, making a few minor adjustments that are generally workable.  Concluding multiple years of hard work, sweat and tears, today the Governor signed AB 104, which includes the Adult Education Block Grant package.  His signature yesterday is ahead of the June 30th Constitutional deadline for him to sign a budget. 
 
While there was much wrangling over the budget in the last few weeks, the Legislature met their required deadline to pass the budget – or a few key parts of it – by the June 15th deadline.  The bulk of the package came together within 24 hours thereafter, with the Governor and Legislature agreeing to a more modest deal that relies on the Governor’s more conservative revenue estimates.  The overall budget provides for a $115.4 billion package that saves billions of dollars and pays down debt, while directing more resources to schools and low-income Californians.  Additionally, they agreed to and Special Sessions were called to address transportation and Medi-Cal funding.
 
In terms of specifics for the Adult Education Block Grant package, it provides the following:

Hit the link to get all the info.

 
–       Includes $500 million in Proposition 98 General Fund revenue for the Adult Education Block Grant program
–       Entities eligible for funding from the Block Grant include school districts, county offices of education, community college districts, and joint powers authorities
–       Programs eligible for funding include:
o   Basic skills, high school equivalency/diploma
o   Citizenship, ESL
o   Workforce entry or reentry, including explicit ability for older adults to access these programs
o   Adult programs, including older adult access, that are “primarily designed to develop knowledge and skills to assist elementary and secondary school children to succeed academically in school” (a la child development for elementary and secondary school children)
o   Adults with disabilities programs
o   Short term career technical education
o   Pre-apprenticeship programs/activities
–       In order to receive funds from the Block Grant, a member must be part of a regional consortium
–       5% administrative cost and consortium expenditures cap
–       Provides for the distribution of funds to be jointly approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chancellor of the Community Colleges
–       Directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chancellor of the Community Colleges to submit a plan to distribute WIOA Title II and Perkins funds to the consortia in future years
–       Provides for a Block Grant-funded maintenance of effort (MOE) for FY 15-16 based on the level of spending required for each of the last two years (FY 12-13 baseline); Caps it at $375 million
o   The Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Chancellor of the Community Colleges must certify the MOE no later than July 31, 2015
o   In order for any school district or county office of education to receive their MOE funds, they must be a member of a consortium
–       Provides that a schedule of allocations for the amount above the MOE shall be approved no later than October 30, 2015
–       Funds will be distributed in FY 16-17 and beyond based on current allocations, need in the region and effectiveness of providers
–       Requires each consortium to develop a comprehensive plan for adult education in its region at least once every three years with annual updates
–       Requires each consortium to create rules and procedures regarding decision making (publicly made), considering feedback on proposed decisions from interested stakeholders
–       Provides stability for adult schools by requiring existing funding be maintained unless a consortium finds a school or college cannot provide services that address the needs of the region or if it has been consistently ineffective in doing so
–       Requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chancellor of the Community Colleges to report annually on the use of the funds and effectiveness in each consortium
–       Provides $25 million one-time Proposition 98 General Fund revenue to establish the data systems necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of local programs
–       Permits Block Grant-funded programs to serve adults only, defined as a person of 18 years of age or older
–       Each consortium member must commit to reporting any funds available to and used by that member for the purpose of adult education and workforce development services
–       Provides that the decision to designate a local fiscal agent is at the discretion of each consortium otherwise the funds would be apportioned directly to members of the consortium from the Superintendent and Chancellor
–       Acknowledges explicitly that the plans consortia have developed to date will satisfy the requirements of the Block Grant for the next three years, with the subsequent 3 year plan needing to incorporate any additional requirements or adjustments in the law that may not have been contemplated and included in the original plan
–       Requires the Superintendent and Chancellor to provide preliminary projections for the amounts that would be allocated in the subsequent two fiscal years to assist with stability and out-year planning
–       Explicitly provides that LCFF funding can be used for adult education purposes
 
Well….that is a lot of detail!  And most of it was a direct result of the great work CCAE and CAEAA have undertaken the last three years.  Kudos to you all!
 
One of the key items that I’ve received a lot of feedback regarding is on the issue of a local fiscal agent.  As you will recall, we fought hard to allow funding to be drawn down through CDE and our school districts.  This was critically important to help reinforce a K-12 adult school’s identity.  Further, we were highly concerned that distribution of resources through a local fiscal agent would run the risk of distancing adult education programs from K12 districts. Regional plans build upon the unique identity of K12 adult schools and so it was imperative that they continued to be tied to CDE and their individual school districts.  It was for these reasons we were thrilled to see the ability for consortia to make their own decisions locally about whether to have a local fiscal agent or to rely on the funding to come through CDE and the school district.  While it has been characterized that lack of a local fiscal agent may result in adult schools not receiving their funding quickly, the timing should not be an issue.  To be clear, the language in AB 104 provides that the Superintendent and Chancellor must approve a schedule of allocations to each consortium by October 30th with the requirement to apportion the funds to a local fiscal agent, if designated, no more than 30 days later.  For a consortium that has not designated a local fiscal agent, the Superintendent and Chancellor are required to apportion the funds no more than 30 days after receipt of a final distribution schedule from the consortium.  This only means that the consortia who elect not to have a local fiscal agent will need to move quickly to finalize their local apportionment schedule so as to indicate how much the Superintendent and Chancellor should apportion to each member, which in theory could be done one day after the state apportionment numbers are finalized and submitted that day with the 30 day clock running the same schedule as the consortium with a local fiscal agent.  Presuming the consortia without a local fiscal agent move quickly to finalize their local apportionment schedule, there should be no delay in receipt of funds.
 
Given all of this, the decision is up to you at the local level as to whether you want to have a local fiscal agent or not.  As your state representatives, we want to be sure you know that there should be no concern with exercising this flexibility we worked so hard to obtain.  
 
As you’ve surely noted, this package was a huge victory for adult schools and for the students we serve.  We’ve helped put in place a framework from which we can build upon to ensure our students continue to have access to these critical programs while at the same time working with our partners to develop pathways for those same students to move on to a career or forward for further education.  Our students are the real winners in this without question.  And while the bulk of the package is workable, there will likely be a few things that will need to be further addressed in a clean-up bill later in the Legislative Session, including further clarity about the 5% administrative cap provision.   If there are other items you believe need to be clarified, please be sure to share with CCAE and CAEAA.
 
On behalf of CCAE and CAEAA, I thank you all for your dedication and for your efforts to help push us over the finishing line.  I look forward to continuing to work together to rebuild adult schools and supporting our students that have come to rely on our programs and services.  Strength in numbers….congratulations!

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