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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Funding a Career Tech/College Prep Start-Up

Kathy Baron
Former Edutopia reporter and editor, mother of two.
The director of alternative education for Elk Grove Unified School District, Christy Moustris, finds new pots of money to keep CTE thriving.

A California teachers' union president once lamented that legislators believed that implementing school reform didn't require more money. "That may be true," said the union leader, "but we'd sure like to try it with sometime." And that was before the state fell into multi-billion dollar debt.

The costs of starting a career and technical education program vary according to size and subject. Christy Moustris, who oversees the two dozen academies and pathway programs in Elk Grove Unified School District, says those focused on themes like health sciences require more expensive equipment than, say, a business academy, but, on average, Moustris estimates the need as follows:

  • $23,000 for the planning year
  • $40,000 for implementation
  • $80,000 when the academy is fully operational

There are still a number of pots of money to fund career and technical education programs and, although some are due to sunset shortly, new ones are being funded. The state of California first began funding career academies in 1985 using general fund dollars allocated for education; in 1988 Proposition 98 became the state's primary education funding source. Since 2007 however, due to state budget cuts, the Prop 98 funding level has not changed to account for cost of living increases.

Karen Shores, with the state department of education's pathways program, is also worried about what will happen when some of the current funding sources disappear. Several of the key programs are slated to sunset in two years unless they're reauthorized or new bills take their place. "The problem with temporary money is it allows academies to get to full implementation and then it dumps them," explains Shores, "It takes three to five years to get the full benefits of an academy, it's a change of culture."

Currently, these are the main sources of funding for CTE in California:

Funding Source: California Partnership Academies
Amount: $89,871,000 (one-third from the district, one-third from industry, and one-third from the state*)
Number of Programs: 478
Number of Students: 60,000
Status: Prop 98 ongoing; SB 70 and AB 519 sunset in 2011-12

Funding Source: Regional Occupational Centers and Program
Amount: $383,370,000
Number of Programs: 73 local ROCPs offering more than 3,900 CTE courses
Number of Students: 550,000
Status: Decreasing. Number of programs dropping since legislature allowed districts to spend the money on non-cta programs in 2008-09 and cut the budget by 32%

Funding Source: Federal Perkins Grants
Amount: $67,637,415
Number of Programs: 540 Local Education Agencies offering 27,5000 courses
Number of Students: 1,021,496
Status: Ongoing

Funding Source: James Irvine Foundation to support school districts participating in the ConnectEd-directed California Linked Learning District Initiative
Amount: About $12 million
Number of Programs: 9 school districts received $125,000 planning grants followed by $1 million implementation grants to develop systems of 6-8 pathway options; and 2 districts received planning grants of $125,000 each.
Number of Students: Each participating district serves at least 5,000 students
Status: Six districts are in their second year of implementation and three districts are beginning their first year of implementation.

Funding Source: CTE Pathways Initiative
Amount: $20 million
Number of Programs: 116 community collaborative projects
Number of Students: N/A
Status: Sunsets in 2012

Funding Source: PG&E New Energy Partnership Academy
Amount: N/A
Number of Programs: Five pilot programs just launched for the 2010-11 academic year
Status: Ongoing

Potential Funding Source: AB 675
Amount: $8 million per year for 5 years - $40 million total
Number of Programs: 97 new green academies
Number of Students: N/A
Status: Vetoed

Additional organizations with CTE programs in California include the National Academy Foundation, Big Picture Learning, Project Lead the Way, and the Federal Smaller Learning Communities Program.

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