BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                          SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
                               Gloria Romero, Chair
                            2009-2010 Regular Session
                                         

          BILL NO:       AB 24
          AUTHOR:        Block
          AMENDED:       July 1, 2009
          FISCAL COMM:   Yes            HEARING DATE:  July 15, 2009
          URGENCY:       No             CONSULTANT:Beth Graybill

           SUBJECT  :  California State University  
          
           SUMMARY:   

          This bill:  1) requires the Chancellor of the California  
          State University to complete and submit to the Trustees a  
          study about the feasibility of establishing a new university  
          campus at Chula Vista, and 2) requires the university to  
          accommodate requests for alternative testing times when a  
          scheduled examination violates a student's religious creed.  

           BACKGROUND  

           Existing law  : 

          1)   Establishes the California State University (CSU)  
               administered by the Board of Trustees, and provides that  
               the Trustees shall have the full power over the  
               construction and development of any CSU campus and any  
               buildings or other facilities or improvements.  

          2)   Declares the intent of the Legislature that sites for  
               new institutions or branches of the University of  
               California (UC) and the CSU shall not be authorized or  
               acquired unless recommended by the California  
               Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC).  Existing law  
               further requires CPEC to advise the Legislature and the  
               Governor regarding the need for, and location of, new  
               institutions and campuses of public higher education.  

          3)   Specifies that construction of authorized California  
               State University campuses shall commence only upon  
               resolution of the CSU trustees and approval by the CPEC  
               (Education Code Section 89002).  





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          4)   Requires the CSU, in administering any test or  
               examination, to permit a student who is eligible to  
               undergo the test or examination to take the test at a  
               time when that activity would not violate the student's  
               religious creed.  Existing law suspends the requirement  
               if administering an alternative date for the test would  
               impose an undue hardship on the institution.











































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           ANALYSIS  

           This bill  :

          1)   Requires the Chancellor of the CSU to conduct a study  
               regarding the feasibility of establishing a satellite  
               program and ultimately, an independent CSU campus at  
               Chula Vista, and specifies the study should include  
               specified elements such as enrollment projections,  
               regional workforce needs, prospective economic impact  
               and job creation in the region, potential alleviation of  
               overcrowding and traffic at San Diego State University,  
               environmental impact, and support and capital outlay  
               projections.  

          2)   Requires the Chancellor to submit the feasibility study  
               to the Trustees within 18 months of the effective date  
               of this bill (June 2011).  

          3)   Removes the hardship exemption concerning alternative  
               testing times, thereby requiring CSU campuses to  
               accommodate all students who want to take a test at a  
               time when it would not violate the student's religious  
               creed.  

           STAFF COMMENTS  

           1)   What's the problem  ?  Currently, the San Diego area is  
               served by two CSU campuses:  CSU San Marcos, and San  
               Diego State University (SDSU).  In addition, SDSU also  
               operates an off-campus education center at Calexico, and  
               offers courses at the Higher Education Center in  
               National City, which is a joint education project  
               between SDSU and Southwestern Community College.  In  
               addition, the San Diego area is served by the University  
               of California at San Diego, eight California community  
               districts, and at least five independent four-year  
               universities.  Given the range of postsecondary options  
               available in the San Diego region, the need for a new  
               four-year public university in unclear.

          According to the author's office, SDSU and CSU San Marcos do  
               not have sufficient capacity to accommodate the current  
               and future enrollment demand in the region, and that  
               students in San Diego's South Bay Region should be able  
               to attend a CSU campus without having to travel to San  




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               Diego State University or CSU San Marcos.  

          The author's office contends that SDSU, which has been  
               designated by the Chancellor's office as an impacted  
               campus, turned away 68.8% of the 50,000 first-time  
               freshmen who applied for the fall 2008 semester and  
               argues that the impaction and anticipated population  
               growth in the southern San Diego region suggest the need  
               for a new CSU campus in the Chula Vista area.  (It is  
               unclear how many of those first-time freshman applicants  
               did not meet the eligibility criteria.)  The CSU reports  
               that all qualified students from the San Diego area were  
               offered admission to SDSU in 2008.  

          As a result of the state's current budget crisis the CSU  
               expects to reduce overall systemwide enrollment by  
               approximately 40,000 students in 2009-10, further  
               reducing enrollment at SDSU this upcoming year.  In  
               order to align enrollment with budgeted resources, CSU  
               plans to continue enrollment management strategies such  
               as redirecting students to non-impacted campuses, giving  
               priority to local-area applicants, adjusting application  
               deadlines, restricting lower-division transfers, and  
               reducing the number of students admitted by exception.   
               CSU's fiscal constraints suggest that much of the  
               "capacity" problem appears to be strongly correlated  
               with financial resources rather than lack of space.  

           2)   History  .  In the 1990s, the City of Chula Vista set  
               aside 375 acres for a four-year university and has  
               worked since that time to establish educational services  
               that would serve students in the region.  (According to  
               a prospectus produced by the City of Chula Vista, the  
               initial proposal was for a University of California  
               campus.)  The proposed site is located seven miles south  
               of downtown San Diego and seven miles north of Tijuana,  
               Mexico.  

          In 2000, AB 2323 (Ducheny, Chapter 462) declared the intent  
               of the Legislature to establish a full-service  
               educational complex to be established through a joint  
               powers association formed by the Sweetwater Union High  
               School District, the Southwestern Community College  
               District, and San Diego State University.  In that year,  
               the Legislature provided $1.0 million for costs  
               associated with establishing the Otay Mesa Educational  




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               Center.  In 2002, CPEC approved this center, which  
               currently operates as an off-campus center of  
               Southwestern Community College.  

           3)   Is this the right time  ?  This bill raises serious  
               questions about short term costs to conduct the study  
               (estimated at $600,000) and long term cost pressure,  
               should it be determined that a new campus is warranted.   
               According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee  
               analysis, this bill has a one-time cost of around  
               $600,000 for the feasibility study, which would include  
               physical, and academic planning and environmental and  
               traffic studies.  

          The current version of this bill deletes a provision that  
               would have required this feasibility study to be funded  
               from private sources, thereby requiring CSU to absorb  
               the cost of the study, potentially further impacting  
               resources available to serve students.  In the long run,  
               this bill could result in unknown but significant  
               General Fund cost pressure for start up and ongoing  
               operations.  Given that all General Obligation Bond  
               funds (Proposition 1D) for higher education facilities  
               have been apportioned, it is not clear when initial  
               capital outlay could be funded.  Moreover, it is not  
               clear, given the current state of the economy when a new  
               higher education bond proposal would be on the ballot.   
               SB 271 (Ducheny), which proposed the Higher Education  
               Bond Act for 2010, was passed by this Committee on a 7-0  
               vote and has been held under submission in Senate  
               Appropriations.  

          Notwithstanding the merits of planning for better times or  
               creating opportunities for economic development, the  
               projections for continued budget stress for both the  
               state and CSU over the next few years suggest that the  
               feasibility study may be premature as much of the data  
               that would be contained in the report could be out of  
               date by the time the state or CSU is in a position to  
               secure funding for the proposed new campus.  

           4)   What is the existing process  ?  Existing law requires  
               CPEC to advise the Legislature and the Governor  
               regarding the need for, and location of, new  
               institutions and campuses of public higher education as  
               a means of carrying out their responsibility to ensure  




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               the effective utilization of public postsecondary  
               education resources.  Under the existing process, public  
               postsecondary systems considering the establishment of a  
               new educational center file a letter of intent with  
               CPEC, in which a system notifies CPEC of an identified  
               need and intention to expand educational services in a  
               given area.  This notice is followed by the submission  
               of a formal analysis of the need for the proposed campus  
               or educational center.  The Needs Study provides the  
               findings from a comprehensive needs analysis of the  
               proposed facility that includes enrollment projections,  
               an analysis of programmatic alternatives, capital outlay  
               and operational cost projections, environmental impact  
               analysis, to name a few.  

          This bill requires the Chancellor to submit a feasibility  
               study to the Trustees, but does not require the Trustees  
               to take any action on the study.  Further, staff notes  
               that the feasibility study outlined in the bill contains  
               some but not all of the elements CPEC requires in a  
               formal Needs Study.  To ensure that the process for  
               establishing an educational center at Chula Vista is  
               consistent with existing state procedures, staff  
               recommends amendments to specify that if and when the  
               Trustees determine the need for a new campus or off  
               campus center at Chula Vista, the Trustees shall submit  
               a formal Needs Study to CPEC for review, pursuant to  
               Education Code Section 66904.  

           5)   Testing accommodation  .  According to the author's  
               office, current law makes it too easy for professors to  
               claim "undue hardship" and deny student requests for  
               alternative testing times.  The scope of this problem is  
               unclear as staff has not been provided information on  
               the number of requests for alternative testing times CSU  
               receives/denies.  By removing the provision, this bill  
               will have the effect of requiring CSU campuses to  
               accommodate any and all religious creed requests for  
               alternative testing times, regardless of the  
               reasonableness of the request and could conceivably  
               require faculty to permit multiple alternative testing  
               times for different students.  Rather than deleting the  
               hardship provision altogether, staff recommends  
               amendments to define undue hardship as accommodations  
               that would cause significant administrative costs or  
               substantial disruption to the educational mission of the  




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               institution.  

           SUPPORT
           
          Allied Gardens Community Council
          American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,  
          AFL-CIO
          BIOCOM
          California Communities United Institute 
          California State Employees Association
          Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce
          City of Chula Vista
          College Area Community council
          College View Estates Association 
          Council of Philippine American Organizations
          County of San Diego
          Crossroads II
          Filipino American Community Empowerment
          Letters from individuals
          Mexican American Business and Professional Association
          National City chamber of Commerce
          National Federation of Filipino American Associations ,  
          Region X
          Rolando Community Council
          San Diego Councilmember Marti Emerald
          South Bay Expressway
          Southwestern Community College District 

           OPPOSITION
           
          None received.