Capitol Alert

AM Alert: How will California hold schools accountable?

Language arts teacher Jennifer Ellerman helps a student with a district test during class on Wednesday, December 5, 2012.
Language arts teacher Jennifer Ellerman helps a student with a district test during class on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. rpench@sacbee.com

It can be tough, in these heady post-election days, to turn your gaze from future lawmakers to past policies. But the school funding overhaul Gov. Jerry Brown championed in 2013 could clear a significant hurdle today.

Setting aside the governor’s six-syllable description, the Local Control Funding Formula rests on a basic principle of giving school districts more autonomy. Rather than send them school dollars through “categoricals” devoted to specific areas, the state will now dole out money more freely. The catch is how to ensure schools are spending that money wisely, particularly when it comes to nurturing lower-income students and others disadvantaged kids LCFF is supposed to help.

That’s where local accountability plans come in: districts must design blueprints for spending those dollars responsibly. The question has prompted a campaign by activists concerned the money will be misspent. Today the State Board of Education could put the debate to rest by finalizing regulations for those accountability plans. Officials will convene at 8:30 at 1430 N Street.

PARTY ON, DEMS: It wasn’t the best election for legislative Democrats, but they still wield strong (albeit diminished) majorities in both houses of the Legislature. They’ll be gathering for a three-day California Democratic Party executive board in San Diego to train delegates and pass resolutions, with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, delivering the Saturday lunch address. Also planning to attend are newly elected Democratic statewide officers Betty Yee (controller) and Alex Padilla (secretary of state), as well as state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who just survived a costly and hard-fought campaign.

BUGGING FARMERS: California’s history of crop-and-politician-afflicting pests continues with the emergence of the Asian Citrus Psyllid. The Senate Committee on Agriculture will hold a hearing in Modesto today on how to combat the threat, featuring Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, California Department of Food and Agriculture official Bob Wynn, Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo and a bevy of experts. Starting at 10 a.m. at the City Council building.

COLLEGE COSTS: The price of higher education has again been in the news lately with University of California officials announcing another round of planned tuition increases. Today the Public Policy Institute of California will be holding a panel discussion on financing higher education, pivoting off of a recent report finding that low-income college aspirants are faring better than you might think. Starting at noon at the CSAC conference center.

ELECTION DISSECTION: Political insiders will continue their post-polls analysis today with an event geared towards communications professionals. Included on the panel will be Republican consultant Aaron McLear, who advised Republican Neel Kashkari’s gubernatorial campaign; APCO Worldwide’s Emily Johnson; and (shameless plug alert) crack political reporter Christopher Cadelago, of The Bee Capitol Bureau. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cafe Bernardo on K street.

Speaking of elections, here are the latest vote counts in several races that remain unsettled:

Assembly District 39 (San Fernando)

Patty Lopez (D) - 18,904

Raul Bocanegra (D) incumbent - 18,897

Assembly District 44 (Oxnard)

Jacqui Irwin (D) - 52,279

Rob McCoy (R) - 48,733

Assembly District 57 (Whittier)

Ian Calderon (D) incumbent - 28,625

Rita Topalian (R) - 27,162

Assembly District 66 (Torrance)

David Hadley (R) - 49,096

Al Muratsuchi (D) incumbent - 47,008

Congressional District 7 (Sacramento suburbs)

Doug Ose (R) - 86,932

Ami Bera (D) incumbent - 87,643

Congressional District 16 (Merced, Fresno)

Johnny Tacherra (R) - 43,157

Jim Costa (D) incumbent - 43,232

Congressional District 26 (Gold Coast, Ventura)

Julia Brownley (D) incumbent - 79,848

Jeff Gorell (R) - 77,478

Call Jeremy B. White, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5543.

39th Assembly District (San Fernando Valley)

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