New definitions proposed for 50 percent law2 min read

Nathan Mitchell and Janay Scott, News Editor and Staff Writer

A recently proposed bill would change how the Foothill-De Anza Community College District distributes its revenue funds, potentially reducing the amount spent in classrooms.

California Assembly Bill 806, introduced by Assemblyman Scott Wilk on Feb. 21, amends current laws requiring community college districts to allot half of their funds towards teachers’ salaries.

The bill adds other education-related salaries to this category, including counselors and librarians, according to analysis from the Assembly Committee on Higher Education.

The bill also includes the salaries and health benefits of teaching assistants and some administrators.

Becky Bartindale, spokesperson for the FHDA district, wrote in an email that the district is evaluating the bill and does not yet have an official position.

The Association of California Community Colleges Administrators supports the bill, describing it as “much-needed legislation” that would increase budgetary flexibility.

“Right now, at least 40 of the 72 college districts — over half — are barely above the 50 percent ratio, even after unprecedented cuts to administration, classified personnel, scheduled maintenance and facilities, instructional materials and other ‘wrong side’ expenses,” according to a template letter which the association encourages sending to higher education committee members.

But the California Teachers Association argues that the bill would reduce overall student support.

“By increasing the definition of classroom instruction for purposes of calculating the 50 percent law … the total amount of funding spent in the classroom on instruction is diluted, thereby providing a net gain to the total amount of monies spent … on administration and other purposes,” Jennifer Baker, legislative advocate for the CTA, wrote in a letter to the Assembly’s Higher Education chairman.

The changes would go into effect for the 2014-15 school year, according to the bill’s text.

The bill was re-referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee April 30, and a hearing has not yet been scheduled, according to the committee’s website.

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