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Calif. Legislator Seeks $900 Million Boost for Standards Implementation

A California lawmaker has introduced legislation that could significantly increase the amount of state aid provided to help schools cover ongoing costs related to the Common Core State Standards.

Assembly Bill 631, authored by Democratic Assembly Member Susan Bonilla, would require state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to allocate an additional $900 million to local education agencies in the upcoming fiscal 2016 budget to help them provide more technology, teacher training, and instructional programs related to the common core, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, which California adopted in 2013. 

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The legislation also would require the state to provide local educational agencies with $1.1 billion to help pay down the cost districts are incurring to provide state-mandated programs. The bill states that this money is also intended to help districts implement the common core and science standards. 

As EdSource points out, those two allocations would command the entire $2 billion in additional state funds the state estimates could be coming to public schools from state coffers for the upcoming budget, as a result of a budget surplus in California. In 2013, Bonilla successfully pushed for the state to provide an additional $1.25 billion for districts to implement the common core.

"Ongoing state investment is critical if we wish to build upon the progress that has already been made," Bonilla said in a statement on her website announcing Assembly Bill 631. 

Last month, I wrote about five Golden State districts that are officially claiming there is insufficient state aid for testing. These districts, supported by the California School Boards Association, say that under the California Constitution, the state must provide additional aid to cover districts' costs in the areas of technology and personnel related to the tests, including the Smarter Balanced tests aligned to the common core.

These districts are seeking about $1 billion annually to cover these testing costs—Bonilla's bill, although it would provide a figure pretty close to this unfunded-mandate claim for testing from districts, doesn't single out that claim.

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