BILL NUMBER: AB 122 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Coto JANUARY 15, 2009 An act to add and repeal Chapter 3.2 (commencing with Section 58530) of Part 31 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, relating to small schools. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 122, as introduced, Coto. Small schools. Existing law grants authority to school districts to establish and operate public schools within their boundaries. This bill would authorize a school district to establish a small school, subject to specified conditions including, among others, a requirement to develop a school plan, as specified, and a requirement to adopt regulations that include the small school as part of an academic reform strategy focused on the positive outcomes small schools are intended to produce. The bill would encourage school districts that establish one or more small schools pursuant to this authority to apply for new construction grants for unhoused pupils as a vehicle for establishing small schools on, adjacent to, or separate from existing campuses, use modernization funding to modernize and reconfigure existing campuses into small schools, either as part of a comprehensive school complex or as a cluster of small schools, and establish the small school pursuant to a dependent charter, as defined, in order to provide the small school with the flexibility of a charter school while allowing it to be located within the district. The bill would repeal these provisions on January 1, 2015. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: no. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following: (1) Research has shown that school size is an important predictor of pupil success, second only to socioeconomic status. The research literature clearly states the superiority of small schools as learning environments. In small schools all of the following occur: (A) Dropout and truancy rates dramatically decrease and graduation rates and postsecondary education enrollment rates increase. (B) Parents are much more likely to be involved in the school and to have greater participation in decisionmaking. (C) Pupils experience a greater sense of belonging and are more satisfied with their schools. (D) Fewer discipline problems occur. (E) Crime, violence, and gang participation decrease. (F) Incidences of alcohol and tobacco abuse decrease. (G) Pupil attendance increases. (H) Ample evidence exists that well-planned and well-implemented small schools can result in astonishing growth in pupil achievement and a significant narrowing of the achievement gap. (2) A recent study of large and small schools in four states has shown that smaller schools reduce the damaging effects of poverty and help pupils narrow the achievement gap between them and pupils from more affluent communities. (3) Reducing school size has also been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of success of school reform efforts. Small schools are more effective at staff development and in implementing new curriculum. (4) Based upon the research on the benefits of small schools, the United States Department of Education has created the Smaller Learning Communities Program and is currently providing a small number of planning and implementation grants to school districts across the country to support the development of small schools and small learning communities. (5) Other states have recognized the value of small schools and have developed state policy to encourage small schools development. In Florida, for example, all schools built after 2003 will be small schools. (6) Many parent groups and school districts in the state, including Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have initiated efforts to create small schools. These efforts include the creation of new small schools on new sites as well as the reconfiguration of existing schools into small schools and small learning communities. (7) The trend in California, over the last few decades, has been to build larger and larger schools. For example, in 2000, more than 73 percent of California high schools had more than 1,000 pupils and more than 57 percent of middle schools had more than 800 pupils. (8) The trend to build large schools has been driven by California' s rapidly growing population and by the assumption that large schools are more cost effective. (9) Research, however, has also shown that small schools, due to lower dropout rates and factors such as reduced school violence, can be more cost effective in total per pupil spending than large schools. (b) It is therefore the intent of the Legislature to reenact and revise provisions in state law that have been repealed to create an incentive for school districts to establish small schools with the assistance of funding for new construction, modernization, and reconfiguration of existing schoolsites. SEC. 2. Chapter 3.2 (commencing with Section 58530) is added to Part 31 of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Education Code, to read: CHAPTER 3.2. SMALL SCHOOLS 58530. A school district may establish a small school pursuant to this chapter, subject to all of the following conditions: (a) If the school provides instruction in kindergarten or any of grades 1 to 5, inclusive, the number of pupils enrolled in the school for those grades shall not be fewer than 80 pupils and not more than 250 pupils. If the school provides instruction in any of grades 6 to 12, inclusive, the number of pupils enrolled in the school for those grades shall not be fewer than 80 pupils and not more than 400 pupils. (b) The school shall be staffed by school district employees who volunteer to be assigned to the school. (c) The facilities that house the pupils enrolled in the school shall be located in proximity to one another. (d) Enrollment in the school is open to all pupils who have at least one parent who is a resident in the attendance area of the school district. (e) Admission to the school shall not be determined by pupil achievement. The school shall have a heterogenous pupil population in terms of pupil achievement. (f) The school shall have a governing board elected by parents of pupils enrolled in the school. (g) The school shall have a significant and agreed upon level of autonomy within the school district. A school district that establishes one or more small schools pursuant to this chapter shall develop, with collaboration from representatives of community groups, bargaining units representing the employees of the school district, and parents of pupils of the school, a school plan for each small school that includes all of the following: (1) Goals for pupil achievement. (2) Teaching and learning philosophy. (3) Curricular focus of the school. (4) Goals for school culture and practices. (5) Leadership goals. (6) Decisionmaking process, including the role of the governing board of the small school. (h) A school district that establishes one or more small schools pursuant to this chapter shall adopt regulations that include the small school or schools as part of an academic reform strategy focused on the positive outcomes small schools are intended to produce. The positive outcomes resulting from the adopted academic reform strategy shall include, but are not limited to, any of the following: (1) A clearly defined mission and goals. (2) High standards and expectations for pupils and staff. (3) Personalization. (4) Individual respect. (5) Universal involvement in decisionmaking. (6) Integrated learning. (7) Multiple measures of pupil achievement. (8) Antiracist and relevant curriculum. (9) Differentiated instruction. (10) Project-oriented learning. (11) Heterogeneous pupil grouping. (12) Pupil-centered classrooms. (13) Connectedness with stakeholders. (14) Diversity. (15) A safe environment. (16) A high-quality learning environment. (17) Alignment of resources with goals. (18) Maximizing community resources and partnerships. (19) Lifelong professional development. (20) A plan for continuous improvement, including data analysis. (i) A small school may be located within an existing elementary, middle, or comprehensive high school and may be newly constructed, located on a single site, or located with other small schools or learning communities. The total enrollment of a small school site shall not exceed the recommendation of the department. 58531. A school district that establishes one or more small schools pursuant to this chapter is encouraged to do any or all of the following: (a) Apply for new construction grants for unhoused pupils as a vehicle for establishing small schools on, adjacent to, or separate from existing campuses. (b) Use modernization funding to modernize and reconfigure existing campuses into small schools, either as part of a comprehensive school complex or as a cluster of small schools. (c) (1) Establish the school pursuant to a dependent charter in order to provide the small school with the flexibility of a charter school while allowing it to be located within the district. (2) A small school established under a dependent charter as described in this subdivision shall not claim reimbursement for state mandates, except for costs related to the administration of the high school exit examination. (3) For purposes of this subdivision, "dependent charter" means a charter granted pursuant to Chapter 2 (commencing with Section 47605) of Part 26.8 in which the chartering authority retains all governance powers regarding the operation of the charter school. 58532. This chapter shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2015, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2015, deletes or extends that date.