Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2002-03 Budget Bill

California School Information Services

The California School Information Services (CSIS) is a multiyear project to develop, implement, and manage a statewide K-12 student-level database and information-transfer network. The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT), a part of the Kern County Office of Education, administers the program. Although FCMAT administers CSIS, the State Department of Education (SDE) administers local assistance grants to FCMAT and is integrally involved in advising on the student-level database. The SDE also has a direct role in CSIS implementation by supporting the transition of state data reporting to electronic submission.

The CSIS has three main program goals, as established in Chapter 78, Statutes of 1999 (AB 1115, Strom-Martin):

The Proposed Budget for CSIS

The Governor's budget proposes $11 million from one-time, prior-year Proposition 98 monies for CSIS implementation grants to school districts, and $4.5 million from one-time, prior-year Proposition 98 monies for support of the FCMAT operation costs. Figure 1 provides a budget summary for CSIS. Based on concerns about inadequate state oversight of CSIS and potential risks inherent in large database projects, the Legislature provided $150,000 to SDE for ongoing independent project oversight in the current year. The Governor's budget continues funding in 2002-03 for the independent evaluator.

Figure 1

Summary of Governor’s Proposed CSISa Budget

2001-02 Proposed Reversion

ü  Funding for FCMAT(b)


·   Proposes to revert $2.558 million of the $11.6 million provided in the 2001-02 Budget Act for implementation grants to local education agencies (LEAs).

2002-03 Budget Proposal

ü  Funding for FCMAT


·   $11 million audit recovery funds provided for implementation grants to LEAs. To the extent that audit recovery funding does not materialize, the $11 million is backfilled with Proposition 98 reversion funds.


·   $4.5 million Proposition 98 reversion funds to FCMAT to support CSIS operation costs.


·   $250,000 Proposition 98 for project management services.

ü  Funding for State Department of Education (SDE)


·   $650,000 provided for SDE workload in support of CSIS.


·   $175,000 for SDE contingent on findings of Department of Finance data management study.


·   $150,000 to continue to contract for independent project oversight, with quarterly reports to Legislature and administration.

a   California School Information Services.

b   Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team.


Below we (1) provide an update of CSIS implementation, (2) discuss the benefits of aligning the annual funding level for CSIS with a completion date, (3) provide an option for FCMAT to conduct CSIS readiness assessments for school districts, and (4) suggest how the CSIS mission could be clarified.

Current Status of CSIS Implementation

Currently, CSIS is in the third year of a multiyear implementation plan. Figure 2 shows CSIS participation by LEAs—school districts and county offices of education. As of January 2002, 12 consortia consisting of 219 LEAs were participating in CSIS. These LEAs represent over 2.2 million students (37 percent of state enrollment). Instead of mandating participation in CSIS, FCMAT is attempting to entice school districts to participate with the benefits of a student-level database, and implementation incentive grants covering approximately 50 percent of the cost of implementation. The CSIS will not maintain or store the student records for districts, but will facilitate the movement of records from school district to school district, and the aggregation of school district data required for state reporting.

Figure 2

Number and Enrollment of LEAsa Participating in CSIS
















Percent of LEAs in state





Approximate enrollment





Percent of state





a   Local education agencies.

b   Based on funding level proposed in the 2002﷓03 Governor's Budget.


When Does the Legislature Want CSIS Completed?

We recommend that the Legislature annually adopt budget bill language stating the intended completion date for the California School Information Services and align funding accordingly.

The FCMAT has provided detailed estimates of the costs of fully implementing CSIS statewide over varying implementation scenarios. Based on the funding needs for participating school districts in the first two years of the CSIS implementation, FCMAT developed a funding formula which can be used to estimate the costs to fund the remainder of the state's school districts' CSIS costs. School districts would receive one-time implementation funding of $8.51 per student plus $2,500 per school site (adjusted annually for inflation). The FCMAT has also developed a small school district formula because the pupil-funding rate would not cover the costs for smaller school districts.

Legislature Signals Intent to Have CSIS Completed Expeditiously. In fall 2001, the Legislature passed AB 295 (Strom-Martin), which among other things required CSIS to be fully operational in 90 percent of school districts and county offices of education by 2004-05. The Governor vetoed the bill in part because of potential state mandate costs that might result. By enrolling AB 295, the Legislature signaled that it wanted CSIS completed in the near term. The funding level provided in the 2001-02 Budget Act and proposed in the Governor's budget, however, would not be sufficient to meet the 2004-05 goal. If for example, the Legislature chose to continue appropriating around $11 million annually for LEA implementation grants, we estimate that FCMAT would be able to provide grants to all LEAs by 2007-08. Since implementation takes two years, the current LEA implementation grant funding level could have all LEAs fully operational by 2009-10.

We recommend that the Legislature align the funding level provided in the budget with the timeline in which the Legislature wants CSIS operational. The Legislature faces a trade-off between the speed at which the program is completed and the annual funding level that the Legislature must provide. Since the appropriation level is closely linked to the completion date of the program, we recommend the Legislature annually adopt budget bill language stating the intended completion date for CSIS. By adopting budget bill language, the Legislature would have the flexibility from year to year to modify the completion timeline for the project, but would be able to signal its intent and track the progress toward its goals from one year to the next.

Provide Needs Assessment for School Districts Not Participating in CSIS

We recommend that the Legislature adopt budget bill language to allow the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team to use a portion of its annual appropriation to provide a California School Information Services (CSIS) compatibility and needs assessment for school districts not yet participating in CSIS.

Problems School Districts Face. Many school districts are not prepared to apply for participation in CSIS. Problems school districts face include:

Helping these less prepared school districts assess their data information needs and develop a plan to prepare for CSIS implementation would help FCMAT ensure the CSIS statewide system is operational in a timely fashion. We think that many school districts would benefit from external assistance in becoming "CSIS ready."

How FCMAT Can Help. We believe that FCMAT has the experience to develop a set of professional standards for assessing the CSIS readiness of school districts and help them prepare to participate in CSIS. One of FCMAT's core missions is to provide management assistance to school districts—generally at the invitation of the district. The FCMAT provides school districts with an assessment of how their current management is working and provides specific action steps that school districts should implement to improve their management operation.

The Governor's budget plans to revert $2.6 million from CSIS funding for LEA grants provided in 2001-02 because FCMAT has reported that it will be unable to use the funds by July 2002. The FCMAT gives two reasons why it will revert funds in the 2001-02 fiscal year: (1) some school district started the CSIS implementation process and backed out prior to entering into an implementation contract with FCMAT and (2) FCMAT did not receive enough quality proposals to use all of the funding effectively. In the future, we believe it would be in the state's interest to use any potential excess LEA implementation grant funds to help LEAs prepare for future integration into CSIS. This could be accomplished by having FCMAT conduct a CSIS readiness assessment for LEAs that request such assistance. Due to the timing of the implementation grant process, FCMAT will know by November 2002 whether it will be able to use all of the implementation grant funding for 2002-03.

Accordingly, we recommend the Legislature adopt budget bill language to allow FCMAT to use up to $2 million of its appropriation to conduct a CSIS compatibility and needs assessment for LEAs, if FCMAT determines that it will be unable to expend all of the funding appropriated for CSIS on implementation grants. We recommend the Legislature amend the budget bill as follows:

Amend Item 6110-485, Provision (7) to read:

(7) $11,000,000 to the State Department of Education for the purpose of funding the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team's (FCMAT) implementation of the local California School Information Services Project (CSIS). The first priority for use of the funding shall be to fund CSIS local implementation grants. To the extent that FCMAT determines that not enough quality local implementation grant proposals have been submitted, FCMAT may use up to $2 million of this appropriation to provide CSIS readiness assistance services to local education agencies.

The CSIS Mission Needs Greater Specificity

We recommend that the Legislature amend statute to clarify the California School Information Services (CSIS) mission, specifically with regard to CSIS's role in: (1) supporting the Academic Performance Index calculation, (2) providing the Legislature and state agencies with individual student information, and (3) supporting state and federal data collections.

The administration is finishing the following two studies that may have significant workload implications for the CSIS project. The Office of the Secretary for Education (OSE) has contracted for a study of data collection needed to support the Academic Performance Index (API), and the Department of Finance (DOF) has contracted for a data management study of the SDE.

The OSE Contracts for API Data Collection Study. The 2000-01 Budget Act provided $500,00 for the OSE to conduct a study to determine how data on graduation rates, student and teacher attendance rates, and other potential academic indicators should be collected by the state to support the API. The study is due to the Legislature soon. If it suggests an active role for CSIS, the Legislature may want to use the information in the study to help clarify the program mission for CSIS. Here are two examples of issues that the report may raise:

The DOF Data Management Study. The DOF has contracted for a $500,000 study of the data management practices at SDE. The DOF plans to release the report by the end of February. The scope of the study required an independent contractor to report to the Legislature and others on potential efficiencies and improvements in the SDE's data collection and management. Specifically, the study is to:

The findings of this study will provide information to help the Legislature clarify the role of CSIS in supporting SDE data collection and management. In addition, the Legislature provided $175,000 in the 2001-02 Budget Act for SDE to begin the next phase of transitioning state data collection to CSIS contingent on the findings of the data management study.

Studies Should Provide Legislature With Necessary Information to Clarify CSIS' Mission. As mentioned above, CSIS program goals are building local capacity to maintain and use data systems, facilitating student records transfer, and supporting electronic submission of state reporting. The first two goals are relatively straight forward, but we believe the goal of supporting submission of state reporting could use further clarification. We believe that the Legislature should take the opportunity to clarify the CSIS mission as it reviews the two administration reports described above. In the legislative review process, we recommend the Legislature clarify the following three issues on how CSIS should support state and federal reporting requirements:

After reviewing the two administration reports, we recommend that the Legislature amend statute to clarify the CSIS mission addressing these three topics.

Resource Needs for SDE to Transition State and Federal Reporting Uncertain

We withhold recommendation on the appropriation level provided to the State Department of Education (SDE) to transition to electronic submission of state and federal reporting requirements through California School Information Services, pending receipt and review of the Department of Finance report evaluating the data management practices of the SDE.

The Governor's budget provides $650,000 to SDE to continue transitioning to electronic submission of state and federal reporting requirements via CSIS, and an additional $175,000 contingent on the findings of the DOF management study. The workload requirements for SDE to continue transitioning reporting requirements will depend on the findings of the DOF data management study discussed above. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on the SDE state operations budget for SDE and CSIS, pending the receipt and review of the DOF report evaluating the data management practices of SDE.

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