Legislation Update - 03/23/2009

Department of Education Releases Budget Memo
On February 25, the California Department of Education sent to district and county superintendents a memo describing the various elements of the budget package that was enacted on February 20, 2009. The memo provides a clear and useful explanation of the new flexibility available to school districts with regard to various categorical education programs, including the IB Grant program. The memo also summarizes the funding cuts in both the current and budget years. The memo may be obtained by going to: http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/el/le/09ltr0225bdgt.asp.

Arguments against Redirection of IB Grant Funding
The decision on whether to redirect state funding for the International Baccalaureate program will now be made at the local level. As is noted in the Department budget memo, in order to shift categorical funding to some other purpose, the school board must take that action following a public hearing and by adopting a plan that describes the purposes for which the funding will be expended. There are at least two major reasons why school districts should not redirect IB Grant funding.

  • The IB program tends to attract students into the school district and/or keep them from enrolling in other educational options outside the traditional school district. The financial value of the average daily attendance generated by such students far exceeds the dollar amount of the IB Grant. In short, the IB program is a magnet to keep students in the district.
  • The flexibility provided in the recent budget package expires in June 2013. At that time school districts will have to comply with the original requirements of the program in order to continue receiving the funding. The timeline to establish an IB program is long and labor intensive. If the district decides to eliminate the program, it is highly unlikely that it would be able restore the program in time to maintain the IB Grant revenues starting in 2013-14.
Federal Stimulus Dollars May Help
As part of the federal stimulus bill, California will receive an estimated $4.9 billion that must be used to restore budget cuts to K-12 and higher education. Our office has been actively involved in these discussions. It appears that the Governor’s administration and the various education organizations have agreed that the funds allocated to restore cuts should be allocated in proportion to the cuts that were imposed, which would mean that half of the money would be used to restore the revenue limit funding and half would be used to restore categorical program cuts. If this approach is ultimately adopted, it would mean that some of the funds would be allocated to school districts that have IB grants in order to restore a potion of those budget cuts.

We anticipate that the decision on how these funds would be allocated will be made by late April or early May 2009.

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