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). AB 24 Page 2 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. AB 24 Page 3 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 AB 24 Page 4 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 AB 24 Page 5 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 AB 24 Page 6 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 AB 24 Page 7 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.