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Analysis of the 2008-09 Budget Bill: Education

After School Programs

Two after school programs are currently operated in California. These programs are run through partnerships between local educational agencies and local community resources. The objective of these programs is to provide safe and educationally enriching alternatives for students from kindergarten through high school during non–school hours. As shown in Figure 1, the Governor proposes to spend $618 million on these programs, in 2008‑09. An estimated 450,000 children are expected to be served.

 

Figure 1

Funding for After School Programs
Increased Significantly in 2006‑07

(Dollars in Millions)

 

2005‑06

2006‑07

2007‑08

2008‑09
Proposed

Change

Amount

Percent

ASESa

$123

$550b

$550

$490

-$60

-11%

21st Centuryc

183

165

189

128

-61

-32

  Total

$306

$715

$739

$618

-$121

-16%

 

a  After School Education and Safety, a state-funded program.

b  Proposition 49 triggered, resulting in a $426 million increase in local assistance funding.

c  21st Century Community Learning Centers, a federally funded program.

 

In the remainder of this write–up, we:

After School Programs Available Kindergarten Through High School

The state funded After School Education and Safety (ASES) program and the federally funded 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st Century) program have very similar objectives and approaches. Figure 2 compares the two programs’ grant levels, grade spans, and underlying requirements.

 

Figure 2

Two After School Programs Are Similar

 

After School Education
 and Safety (ASES)

21st Century Community Learning Centers
(21st Century)

Grants

 

 

Grade span served

Kindergarten - grade 9

Kindergarten - grade 12a

Length of grant

Three years

Five Years

Maximum grant

 

 

  Elementary school

$112,500

$50,000

  Middle school

$150,000

$50,000

  High school

$25,000

Funding priority

Programs serving schools with more than 50 percent of students eligible for free or reduced price meals.

Schools in need of improvement under Title I.

Requirements

 

 

Submit to annual audit

No

Yes

Report semiannual attendance

Yes

Yes

Report annual self evaluation

Yes

Yes

Report quarterly expenditures

Yes

Yes

Provide academic component

Yes

Yes

Provide enrichment component

Yes

Yes

Provide nutritional snack

No

Yesb

Provide family literacy component

No

Yes

Operate minimum number of
hours/days

Yes

Yesb

 

a    Roughly one-half of funds reserved for high schools.

b    Elementary and middle school programs only.

 

The ASES Program Serves Elementary and Middle School Students

The ASES program provides grants to providers of before and after school programs for students in kindergarten through ninth grade. Each program must provide an educational component and an educational enrichment element. The educational component generally consists of tutoring and/or homework assistance in core academic subjects. The enrichment component generally involves physical activities, art, or other general recreation activities. Providers are also required to run the program at least five days a week, provide a nutritious snack, and remain open specified hours. Providers receive a three–year grant contingent upon meeting two requirements—performing a self–evaluation annually and maintaining at least 75 percent of attendance targets. In 2008‑09, the Governor's budget includes $490 million to serve more than 300,000 students through ASES.

The 21st Century Program Primarily Serves High School Students

The 21st Century program is very similar to the ASES program. The program serves students from kindergarten through high school but priority is given to high school programs. As with the ASES program, each 21st Century program must provide both an educational component and an educational enrichment element. Providers of elementary and middle school programs are required to adhere to the same requirements as ASES providers regarding days/hours of operation and providing nutritious snacks. Providers receive a five–year grant contingent upon meeting these requirements. In 2008‑09, the Governor's budget includes slightly more than $125 million in federal funds to serve more than 100,000 students through 21st Century.

Open Issues Remain for ASES

The ASES program was created by Proposition 49 in 2002. The ballot measure restricts the types of changes that can be made to its provisions absent voter approval. The Legislature was able to clarify and modify certain provisions of ASES (and 21st Century) via Chapter 380, Statutes of 2006 (SB 638, Torlakson), but open issues remain. In this section, we describe the history of ASES governance and funding and discuss unresolved issues.

The ASES Program Significantly Expanded in 2006–07. Proposition 49 expanded and renamed a preexisting after school program and required the state to dramatically increase funding for this program once a complicated set of criteria was met. These criteria were trigged in 2006–07 and local assistance funding for ASES was increased by $426 million, for a total funding level of $550 million ($547 million for local assistance and $3 million for state operations). This same funding level was appropriated in 2007–08.

The ASES Program Requires Autopilot Spending Despite Budget Difficulties. Proposition 49 requires a certain amount to be spent on after school programs, essentially without regard to the state’s fiscal situation or other budget priorities. Without going back to the voters for reform of Proposition 49, the state is required to fully fund ASES at $550 million. The only exception is if (1) the state is facing a “Test 3” year for purposes of calculating Proposition 98 (see the “Proposition 98 Introduction” section of this chapter for background on Proposition 98 tests), and (2) year–to–year spending on Proposition 98 is decreasing. California has only experienced this situation once in the history of Proposition 98. Given 2008‑09 is not expected to be a Test 3 year, the state is required to spend $550 million on ASES absent voter reform.

Some Program Elements Can Only Be Changed With Voter Approval. The initiative prohibits legislative amendments to key portions of the measure. The Legislature would need to seek voter approval if it wanted to: (1) change the amount of funds provided or (2) change the provisions regarding how the initiative interacts with the requirements of Proposition 98.

Expand Governor's Reform Proposal and Eliminate Autopilot Spending

We recommend the Legislature expand upon the Governor's proposal to reform Proposition 49 via a ballot measure that would be placed before the voters. We recommend repealing the autopilot funding formula in Proposition 49 to allow After School Education and Safety funding to be determined by the state in the context of overall budget priorities.

The Governor proposes to reduce Proposition 98 General Fund support for ASES below the Proposition 49–required amount by $60 million. The Governor estimates this proposal will result in a minimal reduction of services offered but does not quantify the impact. Because of the Proposition 49 restrictions discussed above, the Governor also proposes to sponsor a ballot measure that would allow after school funding to be reduced in years when the state suspends the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee.

Governor's Ballot Proposal Is Too Narrow. We agree with the administration that the state should have the option to reduce funding for after school programs when Proposition 98 is suspended and funding for other education programs is being reduced. There are, however, other situations in which state revenues are declining or growing very slowly and cuts are made to K–12 programs even though the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee is met. Modifying Proposition 49’s autopilot funding formula to try to account for every possible fiscal situation in which the state might benefit from fiscal flexibility merely confounds the root problem.

Address Root Issue and Eliminate Autopilot Funding Formula. Rather than adding another layer of complexity to Proposition 49’s existing autopilot funding formula, we think the formula itself should be eliminated. Such action would retain all the programmatic features of Proposition 49 without requiring the state to appropriate a fixed amount of funding for after school programs every year. As with the administration’s proposed change, this change would need to be made via a ballot measure. Once the autopilot formula was eliminated, funding for the ASES program would be determined by the state in the context of all other budget priorities. Funding could be increased or decreased at the discretion of the Legislature after considering program demand, evaluations, other budget priorities, and the fiscal outlook. For example, rather than having to provide $550 million for after school programs while simultaneously reducing funding for programs that serve foster youth, English learners, and at–risk students, the state could weigh these competing priorities and budget accordingly.

2008‑09 Budget Should Not Depend or Reform. If the Legislature decides to place such a measure on the ballot in 2008, it could assume savings in its 2008‑09 budget package. However, given the uncertainty of when the measure would be placed on the ballot and whether it would be approved, our recommended budget plan for K–12 education does not depend upon any budget–year savings.


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