Kevin Yamamura and Diana Lambert report in this morning's Sacramento Bee:
The last-minute school legislation, Assembly Bill 114, emerged publicly less than an hour before lawmakers approved it in a late-evening Tuesday session. It reflects the negotiating muscle of teachers as Democratic lawmakers crafted their majority-vote budget with a governor of their own party.
"This provides stability for students and teachers," said Dean Vogel, at left, the new president of the California Teachers Association. He said the bill stems the tide of an estimated 30,000 job losses that teachers have faced since the recession began.
Okay, but adminisrators are, according to John Fensterwald's report in this morning's Educated Guess,"appalled" [emphases ours]:
Superintendents, business officers, and budget consultants are expressing bewilderment over demands and restrictions in the education trailer bill – AB 114 – that they say could throw already financially stressed school districts into serious financial jeopardy. School Services of California, which advises many districts on financial issues, has called on Gov. Jerry Brown to veto one particularly worrisome section of the bill that suspends fiscal oversight by county offices of education for the coming year. In adopting the provision, the Legislature “has eclipsed all of its previous low standards for ethics and integrity,” the company wrote on its website.
As Yamamura and Lambert report:
Lawmakers blocked K-12 districts from laying off teachers for the upcoming fiscal year. Teachers also won provisions requiring districts to ignore – for now – the prospect of a $1.75 billion "trigger" cut that could hit K-12 districts if optimistic revenue projections fall short.
Instead, the state is requiring districts to assume they will receive the same amount of money as this past fiscal year "and maintain staffing and program levels commensurate with this funding level," according to an Assembly analysis.
Brown's Department of Finance said the latter provision could even cause some districts to rescind pink slips handed out earlier this year. CTA estimates that 20,850 of its members received layoff notices earlier this year, while districts have pulled back 8,524 of those.
The 100-page trailer bill was published Wednesday morning, 12 hours after Democrats in the Legislature passed it without discussion. Except perhaps for a handful of insiders, educators had no idea what was in it.
After manipulating Proposition 98, which determines how much will be spent on education, legislators appropriated the same amount for K-12 schools as last year. Because it is based on an optimistic projection of $4 billion in additional revenue, the budget also lays out $1.9 billion in cuts, primarily by shortening the school year by as much as a week, if by January revenues are coming up short.
...[AB 114 eliminates] the option that districts would have over the next 45 days to make staff adjustments if they view this as necessary. Instead, the Legislature is suspending that capability under the law for the next year. As School Services noted, “This provision is clearly designed to protect union positions, even if the district cannot afford to pay for the services.”
Once the 45 days are up, districts no longer will be able to lay off any certificated teachers this year. That means that if revenues turn south, their only option will be cutting the year short, cutting teachers’ pay but also shrinking learning time. That may be the Legislature’s intent, but furloughs still must be negotiated locally. The Legislature did not authorize school districts to unilaterally impose them. Some local unions may resist additional furloughs or stretch out negotiations for months. If so, districts could run into big money problems.