The California Military Department (CMD) is responsible for the command, leadership, and management of the California National Guard, as well as other activities. To support the operations for a force of over 22,000 personnel, the department maintains a headquarters in Sacramento, 95 armories, and various other facilities throughout the state. The Governor’s budget proposes $233 million for CMD in 2018‑19, which is a decrease of $126 million, or about 35 percent, from current-year estimated expenditures. This decrease primarily reflects $142 million in one-time funding provided in 2017‑18 to construct a new Consolidated Headquarters Complex. Of the total amount proposed for CMD in 2018‑19, $124 million is from federal funds, $99 million is from the General Fund, and the remainder is mostly from reimbursements.
In this analysis, we assess two proposals for CMD included in the Governor’s 2018‑19 budget: (1) the California Military Institute and Porterville Military Institute, and (2) the expansion of the California Cadet Corps.
LAO Bottom Line. The Governor’s budget proposes $3.6 million in one-time General Fund in 2018‑19 and $3.3 million in ongoing General Fund to provide CMD support to two public charter schools, the California Military Institute (CMI) and Porterville Military Institute (PMI). We recommend rejecting the proposed General Fund appropriation, but approving position and associated reimbursement authority for CMD. This should enable CMD to provide support to CMI and PMI if these schools choose to allocate some of their Proposition 98 funds to supplement their staffing with CMD personnel.
Oakland Military Institute (OMI) Is the Only CMD Supported Military Academy. OMI is a public charter school established in Oakland in 2001. It currently enrolls nearly 700 students in grades 6 through 12, about two-thirds of whom are English learner or low income (EL/LI). The school provides traditional academic instruction within a military academy framework in which all students participate in military themed activities, such as military drills, designed to develop leadership skills, discipline, and good citizenship. Under the Governor’s budget, OMI is to receive an estimated $6.7 million in Proposition 98 funding in 2018‑19 based on a funding formula described below. In addition, OMI receives support from the CMD in the form of 21 military personnel who run the military program component of the school, providing military instruction, mentorship, and oversight of activities, at an annual cost of about $3.3 million from the General Fund.
State Has Other Military Academies That Do Not Receive CMD Support. There are currently several other public charter schools in California with a military academy focus that do not receive CMD support, including those in Hesperia, Visalia, Sun Valley, and Perris. Notably, Perris is home to CMI, which is a public charter school that was established in 2003. CMI currently enrolls over 1,000 students in grades 5 through 12, almost 90 percent of whom are EL/LI. In addition to these already-established schools, another public charter school with a military academy model is scheduled to be established in Porterville in fall 2018. This new school—PMI—is expected to have an enrollment of 500 students from grades 7 through 12. It is also expected to serve a high percentage of EL/LI students. (Porterville Unified School District, from which PMI will draw most of its students, is about 85 percent EL/LI.)
The Governor’s budget proposes to provide $3.6 million on a one-time basis from the General Fund in 2018‑19 and $3.3 million annually thereafter from the General Fund to enable CMD to support activities at both CMI and PMI. Most of the General Fund request—$2.9 million ongoing—would go toward providing 21 military personnel (13 for PMI and 8 for CMI) to run the military program component of the schools, similar to the support currently provided to OMI. A small portion—$619,000 one time and $380,000 ongoing—of the funds would pay for uniforms, training, supplies, and logistical support for school activities. The administration states that this proposed General Fund support is necessary in order to enable CMI and PMI to adopt a military academy model similar to OMI’s, with the aim of improving CMI and PMI’s educational outcomes.
Military Academy Model Has Mixed Results in Educational Outcomes. As mentioned above, the military academy programs at Perris and Porterville are proposed to be based on the model at OMI. However, the California School Dashboard—which provides information on how schools and districts are performing on test scores, graduation rates and other measures of student success—shows mixed results for student outcomes at OMI. Notably, while OMI has strong ratings on some indicators such as attendance and graduation rates, its performance on other indicators—such as test scores, English learner progress, and suspension rates—is either equivalent to or, in some cases, worse than the surrounding school district. (We note that both the surrounding district and OMI serve a similar proportion of EL/LI students.)
The administration has cited one study from the RAND Corporation on federally funded Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) Career Academies to support its argument that military academies improve educational outcomes. This study does show a potential positive effect on outcomes such as grade point averages, attendance, and graduation rates. However, the study also finds similar results at other nonmilitary specialized career academies (such as those focused on the arts or health), and that the military academies studied also had an intensive vocational training component that could also have been a significant contributing factor in the results. Accordingly, it is not clear that any positive educational outcomes are a result of the military model specifically.
Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Allows Perris and Porterville to Directly Fund Military Programs. Currently, the state allocates funding for K-12 education through a streamlined formula, known as LCFF, that includes base per-pupil funding as well as additional funding for certain student groups. For example, school districts receive supplemental funds for each EL/LI student, as well as additional concentration funds for each EL/LI student served in excess of 55 percent of district enrollment. (Please see the nearby box for more detailed information on LCFF.) A main rationale for implementing LCFF was to provide school districts with more flexibility to spend resources on local priorities—rather than specific programs designated by the state—including using LCFF funds to provide a military component to their schools if that is a local priority. Notably, CMI’s current military program is funded locally using LCFF funds. Porterville Unified School District similarly could adopt this funding model, and has stated its intention to establish some form of military academy structure at PMI regardless of the level of direct state support.
Starting in 2013‑14, LCFF represented a major change to the way the state allocates funding for K-12 education. Prior to LCFF, the state provided school districts with general purpose funds—known as revenue limits—as well as grants for specific activities—known as categorical funding. LCFF replaced the system of revenue limits and categorical funding with a streamlined formula that includes base per-pupil funding as well as supplemental funding for certain student groups. Specifically, LCFF provides school districts with an additional 20 percent of the base grant for each English learner and low-income (EL/LI) student, as well as an additional 50 percent of the base grant for any EL/LI students served in excess of 55 percent of district enrollment. (This additional funding is known as supplemental and concentration funding, respectively.) We note that state funding for K-12 schools increased 28 percent in inflation-adjusted, per-pupil terms between 2012‑13 and 2017‑18. Schools serving a large number of EL/LI students have generally seen faster revenue increases than those serving relatively few EL/LI students under LCFF.
Notably, substantial and growing funding is available to schools—including CMI and PMI—through LCFF that could be used to create or enhance military programs. Specifically, LCFF funding has increased significantly in recent years, and the base funding for schools is anticipated to increase by 5.4 percent in 2018‑19 alone. Furthermore, CMI and PMI serve a large number of EL/LI students and thus receive substantial supplemental and concentration funds in addition to their base funding. In 2018‑19, we estimate CMI will receive a total of $11.2 million from LCFF under the Governor’s budget (including $2.8 million in supplemental and concentration funds), and PMI will receive $5.6 million (including $1.3 million in supplemental and concentration funds) assuming the school enrolls 500 students and its student population has a similar proportion of EL/LI students as Porterville Unified School District.
Reject Proposed Appropriation, but Approve Position and Reimbursement Authority. In view of the above, we recommend the Legislature reject the Governor’s proposal for $3.6 million one-time and $3.3 million ongoing General Fund to provide CMD support to CMI and PMI. We instead recommend that the Legislature authorize 21 positions and $2.9 million annually in reimbursement authority to enable CMD to support CMI and PMI should these schools allocate some of their LCFF funds to CMD activities. We further recommend rejecting the proposal for $619,000 one-time and $380,000 ongoing General Fund support for uniforms and other logistical support, since the schools can directly procure these items themselves. This is consistent with LCFF’s general approach of providing local school districts the ability to create budgets aligned to local priorities—whether through establishing military academies, other specialized charter schools, or other enrichment programs.
LAO Bottom Line. The Governor’s budget proposes an additional $6.5 million in General Fund support in 2018‑19 to the California Cadet Corps (CACC), increasing to over $8 million annually within five years, to expand the number of schools participating in CACC. We recommend the Legislature reject the proposal because (1) it lacks key information and (2) schools can fund participation in CACC with their own funds if they find that the program is valuable to their students.
CACC is a state-supported middle and high school-based, applied leadership program conducted within a military framework. Similar to the federal government-supported JROTC program, students in the CACC program participate in an optional class as well as additional military-themed extracurricular activities. Currently, about 6,000 students at 51 middle and high schools participate in CACC.
The state provides about $1.5 million from the General Fund annually to support CACC, allocated mostly to purchase cadet uniforms, support statewide activities such as drill competitions and encampments, and support three CMD positions to administer the program. The remaining costs associated with the program (such as commandant instructor salaries, local activities, and classroom supplies) are generally paid directly by schools that participate in the program using funds provided through LCFF.
The Governor’s budget proposes to provide an additional $6.5 million in General Fund support in 2018‑19, increasing to over $8 million annually by the fifth year, to expand the number of schools participating in CACC to 175 schools and 21,875 cadets by 2022‑23. This increase in support will fund a greater share of program costs that are currently paid for by schools in areas such as commandant training, supplies, and activities with the goal of more than tripling the size of the program. It would also fund uniforms and state-level activities for these additional participating schools. Finally, it would fund curriculum updates, improved facilities for CMD staff, and a much larger state-level staff (12 additional positions in 2018‑19 and 11 thereafter). We note that the administration indicates that the requested funds are not sufficient to fully support the planned growth of CACC. The administration plans to submit a revised proposal reflecting the additional necessary resources in April.
CACC’s Effect on Student Outcomes Is Uncertain. There is limited evidence demonstrating the effect of CACC on student outcomes. While CMD cites statistics that CACC cadets often have better educational outcomes in areas including high school graduation and college attendance rates than the general student population, it is unclear whether the students who are already higher performers self-select into the program. CMD is unable to provide studies that address these issues.
Schools Can Fund CACC Programs Themselves if They See Benefits. As previously noted, LCFF gives schools flexibility on how to use their funds, including the ability to choose how to spend education funds on enrichment programs based on their own assessment of the value of those options for their students. CMD indicates that additional General Fund support is necessary in order to expand CACC to more schools that might benefit from the program, but are discouraged due to the costs of participating. However, if schools see CACC as particularly valuable to their students, they should be willing to prioritize funding it, just as they would any other enrichment program under LCFF. We further note that the 51 participating schools have in fact prioritized offering CACC to their students and have been paying for commandant instructor salaries, local activities, and classroom supplies using their LCFF funds. This proposal would likely replace a substantial portion of this existing LCFF funding that current schools participating in CACC have already chosen to provide with their Proposition 98 dollars.
Proposal Lacks Key Information. At the time of this analysis, CMD was unable to provide key information to justify its proposal. For example, the department did not provide basic information that would make it possible to determine how much funding is proposed to go to expanding CACC to additional students compared to other activities such as updating the curriculum. Additionally, it did not provide specific information on how it would allocate the requested resources to different components of the request, such as training, supplies, facilities, and activities. Furthermore, CMD did not provide descriptions of the activities to be conducted by the requested staff or workload information to support the number of positions requested.
Reject Proposal. In view of the above concerns, we recommend that the Legislature reject the Governor’s proposal to increase state support for CACC. This is because, if schools find that the program provides sufficient benefits to their students to justify its costs, they should be willing to prioritize funding it, just as they would any other enrichment program. Additionally, CMD has failed to provide key information to justify the need for the level of resources requested in the proposal, such as for training, additional staff, and associated facilities.