BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






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

          BILL NO:       AB 122
          AUTHOR:        Coto
          AMENDED:       June 1, 2009
          FISCAL COMM:   No             HEARING DATE:  July 8, 2009
          URGENCY:       No             CONSULTANT:Kathleen Chavira

          SUBJECT  :  Small Schools
          
           SUMMARY  

          This bill establishes conditions which must be met for a  
          district to establish a small school and repeals these  
          provisions on January 1, 2017.

           BACKGROUND  

          AB 1465 (Chan, Statutes of 2004) set aside $20 million in  
          new construction funding and $5 million in modernization  
          funding for a Small High School pilot program allowing  
          school districts to receive an increased amount of funding  
          when constructing or reconfiguring small high schools  
          (defined as high schools having a total enrollment of no  
          more than 500 pupils).  The program provided a 20 percent  
          increase to the new construction per-pupil grant and  
          changed the state and local matching share from 50/50 to  
          60/40, respectively. Funding for a single modernization  
          project was limited to $500,000 and was available to a high  
          school with an enrollment of 1,000 or more pupils seeking  
          to reconfigure into two or more small high schools.   
          Applicant school districts were required to develop an  
          Academic Reform Strategy, to be reviewed by the California  
          Department of Education (CDE).  Proposition 1D, authorized  
          by voters in 2006, authorized up to $200 million from new  
          construction and modernization funds to be used for Small  
          High Schools.

          AB 1465 also required the State Allocation Board (SAB) to  
          evaluate the cost of construction and modernization of  
          small high schools in the pilot program, and required the  
          CDE to evaluate the pupil outcomes at the small high  
          schools, with the intention that these evaluations be used  




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          to inform the direction of future school facilities  
          construction and related bond measures.  

          The SAB adopted regulations for implementation and  
          administration of the pilot program, which was authorized  
          for two years, in July 2005.  According to the Office of  
          Public School Construction, only one project by Porterville  
          Unified School District, housing 499 pupils in 19  
          classrooms, received small high school funding for new  
          construction.  No modernization funds were ever  
          apportioned.  The Small High School Pilot Program sunset on  
          January 1, 2008.

           
          ANALYSIS
           
           This bill  :

          1)   Authorizes a school district to establish a small  
               school subject to specified conditions. Specifically,  
               it:

                    a)             Establishes enrollment levels for  
                    students in specified grade levels.  More  
                    specifically it requires that a school providing  
                    instruction for pupils in:
                
                           i)                  Grades K-5 must have  
                         at least 80 and no more than 250 students in  
                         those grades.

                           ii)  Grades K-8 must have at least 80 and  
                         no more than 450 students in those grades.

                           iii) Grades 6-12 must have at least 80 and  
                         no more than 400 students in those grades.

                    b)             Require the school be staffed by  
                    school district staff that volunteer for  
                    assignment to the school.

                    c)             Requires facilities housing pupils  
                    to be located in proximity to one another.

                    d)             Requires that enrollment be open  
                    to all pupils with at least one parent/guardian  




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                    who is a resident in the attendance area of the  
                    school district.

                    e)             Prohibits admission to the school  
                    to determined by pupil achievement and requires  
                    the school to develop an objective transparent  
                    process to ensure a heterogeneous population that  
                    reflects the diversity of pupils in that  
                    district.

                    f)             Requires the school have an  
                    advisory body, elected by their peers and  
                    comprised of school staff, parents, guardians,  
                    and pupils.

                    g)             Requires the allocation of funds  
                    to the small school such that the amount of  
                    funding per student that is received is the same  
                    as what the pupil would have generated at the  
                    school attended or that would be attended  
                    otherwise.

                    h)             Requires the advisory body, in  
                    consultation with the schoolsite staff to work  
                    with the district to determine how funds  
                    allocated to the small school are spent.

                    i)             Requires the small school to  
                    develop, with collaboration from specified  
                    groups, a school plan that includes specified  
                    components, including an evaluation plan, and  
                    requires that the evaluation plan be submitted by  
                    the school 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

                    j)             Requires the district to develop a  
                    process for the submission of proposals to  
                    establish a small school by interested  
                    stakeholders.

                    aa)            Requires a district that  
                    establishes a small school(s) pursuant to the  
                    bill's provisions to adopt regulations that  
                    include them as part of an academic reform  




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                    strategy focused on 20 delineated outcomes.

                    bb)            Authorizes a small school to be  
                    located within an existing elementary, middle, or  
                    high school site and to be newly constructed and  
                    located on a single site or with other small  
                    schools or learning communities.

          2)   Repeals the provisions of the bill on January 1, 2017.

           STAFF COMMENTS  

           1)   Is this bill necessary  ?  Under current law, districts  
               may already establish small schools if they so choose.  
               The bill itself cites successful efforts in Los  
               Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, San  
               Francisco, and San Jose.  The challenge in the  
               creation of small schools appears to be around  
               facilities and programs, as evidenced by the lack of  
               participation in the Small High School Program (see  
               background of this analysis).  This bill does not  
               address these issues.  However, assuming that  
               districts are unaware of the elements necessary for a  
               successful small school or small learning community,  
               rather than statutorily prescribe the conditions for  
               establishing a small school, would it be more  
               appropriate to direct the California Department of  
               Education to provide information and assistance to  
               districts on the establishment of small schools and  
               learning communities?  

           2)   One size fits all  ? This bill prescribes one model for  
               establishment of a small school.  It is unclear  
               whether this model conflicts with the small school  
               models that have already been established by districts  
               in California.  In addition, there are over 1000  
               school districts in the state.  Is it reasonable to  
               assume that this one model can be applied in all  
               districts?  Will it serve as a barrier, rather than an  
               incentive to the creation of small schools?  If it is  
               the desire of the committee to move this bill, staff  
               recommends the bill be amended to offer guidelines,  
               rather than conditions, for the establishment of a  
               small school and to clarify that the bill offers a  
               model, but not the only model for creation of a small  
               school or small learning community.




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           3)   Fiscal impact  .  Although legislative counsel has  
               identified this bill as non-fiscal, staff notes that a  
               number of fiscal concerns are raised by the bill's  
               provisions.  For example, do the provisions of the  
               bill create a potential for these schools to become  
               eligible for necessary small school funding?  Does a  
               school that inadvertently meets some of the conditions  
               become subject to the various duties outlined? Could  
               this be construed as a mandate?   If it is the desire  
               to move this bill, staff recommends the motion be "Do  
               pass as amended to Rules for subsequent referral to  
               the Senate Appropriations Committee." 

           

          SUPPORT  

          None received on this version. 

           OPPOSITION

           None received.