BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 122
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          AB 122 (Coto)
          As Amended  June 1, 2009
          Majority vote 

           EDUCATION           8-1         APPROPRIATIONS      12-5        
          |Ayes:|Brownley, Ammiano,        |Ayes:|De Leon, Ammiano, Charles  |
          |     |Arambula,                 |     |Calderon, Davis, Fuentes,  |
          |     |Buchanan, Carter, Eng,    |     |Hall, John A. Perez,       |
          |     |Solorio,                  |     |Price, Skinner, Solorio,   |
          |     |Torlakson                 |     |Torlakson, Krekorian       |
          |     |                          |     |                           |
          |Nays:|Miller                    |Nays:|Nielsen, Duvall, Harkey,   |
          |     |                          |     |Miller,                    |
          |     |                          |     |Audra Strickland           |

           SUMMARY  :  Authorizes school districts to establish small  
          schools.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Makes declarations and findings regarding the impact of  
            smaller school size, including lower dropout and truancy  
            rates; increased parent involvement; a greater sense of  
            belonging; fewer discipline problems; fewer crime, violence  
            and gang participation; decrease in incidences of alcohol and  
            tobacco abuse; and increase in pupil attendance.

          2)Authorizes a school district to establish a small school  
            subject to all the following conditions:

             a)   Pupil enrollment in a kindergarten and grades 1 through  
               5 school shall not be fewer than 80 pupils and more than  
               250 pupils; in kindergarten and grades 1 through 8 school,  
               no fewer than 80 pupils and not more than 450 pupils; and  
               in grades 6 through 12, no 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  


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               school shall be located in proximity to one another. 

             d)   Enrollment in the school shall be open to all pupils who  
               have at least one parent or guardian 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 that reflects the  
               diversity of the pupils in that school district.  The small  
               school shall develop an objective, transparent process to  
               ensure the school has a heterogeneous pupil population.

             f)   The school shall have an advisory body consisting of  
               school staff, parents, guardians, and pupils. Members of  
               those groups shall be elected to the advisory body by their  

             g)   A school district that establishes a small school shall  
               allocate funds to the small school in a manner that results  
               in the small school receiving the amount of funds that each  
               pupil would generate at the pupil's prior school or the  
               school that the pupil would otherwise attend.  The advisory  
               body, in consultation with schoolsite staff of the small  
               school, shall work with the school district to determine  
               how funds allocated to the small school are spent.

             h)   A school district that establishes one or more small  
               schools pursuant to this bill 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  

               i)     Goals for pupil achievement. 
               ii)    Teaching and learning philosophy. 
               iii)   Curricular focus of the school. 
               iv)    Goals for school culture and practices.
               v)     Leadership goals. 
               vi)    Tentative budget.
               vii)   Decision-making process, including the role of the  
                 governing board of the small school. 
               viii)An evaluation plan based on multiple measures.  The  


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               school's own evaluation that
                     includes the results of assessments required by the  
               state shall be submitted to the 
                     California Department of Education and the Assembly  
               and Senate Education 
                     Committees at the beginning of the second year of the  
               school's operation.
             i)   A school district that establishes a small school  
               pursuant to this bill shall develop a process for  
               interested stakeholders to submit proposals for the  
               establishment of a small school. The proposal shall include  
               all of the factors in h) above.

             j)   A school district that establishes one or more small  
               schools pursuant to this bill 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: 

               i)     A clearly defined mission and goals. 
               ii)    High standards and expectations for pupils and  
               iii)   Personalization. 
               iv)    Individual respect.
               v)     Universal involvement in decisionmaking.
               vi)    Integrated learning. 
               vii)   Multiple measures of pupil achievement. 
               viii)Antiracist and relevant curriculum. 
               ix) Differentiated instruction.
               x)  Project-oriented learning. 
               xi) Heterogeneous pupil grouping.
               xii) Pupil-centered classrooms. 
               xiii)Connectedness with stakeholders. 
               xv) A safe environment. 
               xvi)A high-quality learning environment. 
               xvii)Alignment of resources with goals. 
               xviii)Maximizing community resources and partnerships. 
               xix) Lifelong professional development. 
               xx) A plan for continuous improvement, including data  


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             aa)   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. 

          1)Repeals the provisions of this bill on January 1, 2017, unless  
            a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1,  
            2017, deletes or extends that date. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee, there is no state fiscal effect.  

           COMMENTS  :  Much research has been conducted on the impact of  
          school size on pupil achievement and retention, graduation  
          rates, parental involvement in the schools, and school safety.   
          The School Redesign Network at Stanford University conducted a  
          study of five urban, public high schools that serve primarily  
          students of color at higher rates than the state average and  
          send most of their students to college.  The report concluded  
          that the smaller learning communities of the schools provided  
          more personalization and instructional supports needed to create  
          more successful learning.  

          While research shows that smaller is better, there is no  
          conclusion and agreement on the optimal size of a school.   
          Research highlights small school sizes ranging from 150 to 1000.  
           One report by the KnowledgeWorks Foundation titled "Dollars and  
          Sense:  The Cost Effectiveness of Small Schools" concludes that  
          one size does not fit all, and that determining the upper limit  
          for enrollment per grade level may be more beneficial than  
          defining the size for a small school.  For example, a  
          kindergarten through grade 6 school with 500 pupils is not  
          equivalent to a kindergarten through grade 8 school with the  
          same number of pupils.  The report recommends specifying an  
          enrollment cap per grade level as follows:

               High schools (9-12):  75 students per grade level (300  
          total enrollment)
               Middle schools (5-8):  50 students per grade level (200  
          total enrollment)
               Elementary schools (1-8):  25 students per grade level (200  
          total enrollment)
               Elementary schools (1-6):  25 students per grade level (150  


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          total enrollment) 

          In an evaluation of 489 schools of varying sizes, the report  
          showed that the cost of constructing smaller schools was 20%  

          Some studies also suggest that there are other approaches to  
          downsizing, including small learning communities within a large  
          campus and "academies" within high schools that operate around  

          In 2004, AB 1465 (Chan), Chapter 894, Statutes of 2004,  
          established the Small High School Pilot program and set aside  
          $25 million ($20 million for new construction and $5 million for  
          modernization) from state education bond funds for this purpose.  
           Proposition 1D, the Kindergarten-University Public Education  
          Facilities Bond Act of 2006, authorizes up to $200 million from  
          new construction and modernization funds to be used for Small  
          High Schools.  

          The pilot provided a small high school, defined as a school with  
          an enrollment of less than 500 pupils, with an increased grant  
          amount equivalent to 120% of the base grant.  The pilot was  
          authorized for two years, between January 1, 2006 and January 1,  
          2008.  According to the Office of Public School Construction,  
          only one project by Porterville Unified School District, housing  
          499 pupils in 19 classrooms, received funding from New  
          Construction.  No modernization funds were apportioned.  The  
          sunset for the Small High School Pilot program was January 1,  
          2008, and the statute was not extended.

          Some districts have argued that the current funding structure  
          encourages the construction of larger schools.  State education  
          bond funds are awarded by per pupil grants.  Because the  
          existing grant levels are inadequate, the only way to increase  
          the funds available to build a school is to increase the number  
          of per pupil grants for the school, which result in the  
          construction of larger schools.

          This bill is similar to AB 1841 (Coto), which was held in the  
          Assembly Appropriations Committee Suspense file in 2008.  Last  
          year's bill attempted to revive the funding stream for the Small  
          High School Pilot program.  The focus of AB 122 is on the  
          structure and programmatic aspects of small schools and simply  


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          encourages school districts.  

          The bill requires the district to establish a process whereby  
          interested stakeholders can submit proposals to establish a  
          small school pursuant to this bill.  If the district chooses to  
          establish the small school, the district shall provide the funds  
          each pupil would normally generate to the school.  The school  
          shall have an advisory body consisting of school staff, parents,  
          guardians, and pupils, who shall be elected by their peers.  The  
          advisory body will work with the schoolsite staff and the school  
          district to determine how funds will be spent.  The bill  
          specifies that enrollment shall be open to all pupils with at  
          least one parent or guardian residing in the district's  
          attendance area, but specifies that the school must have a  
          heterogeneous pupil population in terms of pupil achievement  
          that reflects the diversity of the pupils in that school  
          district.  It is unclear how a district will be able to achieve  
          this requirement.

          Districts can and have already established small schools.  The  
          bill cites successful efforts in Los Angeles, Oakland,  
          Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.  Some are  
          theme-based schools while others are "schools within a school".   

          The challenge in establishing small schools is funding for  
          facilities and programs, including staffing.  This bill does not  
          address funding barriers.

          The author states, "The purpose of AB 122 is to close the  
          achievement gap and to assist many more California students  
          experiencing achievement and success in our schools.  AB 122  
          points out and defines the potential of small schools to meet  
          this aim."  

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087  

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