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Budget Trailer Bill Details Ed-Tech Funding

While not entirely a precise road map, the new bill is among those revealing how and where California will likely spend on technology and innovation this fiscal year.

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Less than a month into the 2022-2023 fiscal year, which began July 1, it’s well worth examining the recently approved IT spend in this year’s $308 billion state budget.

As IT companies and state watchers know well, not every penny in an annual budget always gets spent; when budgets are reconciled, sometimes more funds are spent than forecasted in certain areas, while elsewhere, dollars allocated may not actually be used.

(In a recent Virtual Briefing on the New State Budget, Industry Insider — California broke down key elements of the approved budget. The briefing can be seen here and the slides are here.)

That said, there are several areas of interest to IT vendors in state Assembly Bill 183, a higher-education trailer bill from Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, that Gov. Gavin Newsom signed last month. (Find earlier budget coverage here.) Among the takeaways:

  • The bill appropriates $75 million from the general fund to the board of governors of the California Community Colleges, to be allocated to community college districts to “implement local and systemwide technology and data security measures that support improved oversight of fraud mitigation and cybersecurity efforts.” More specifically, that money may be used for “security upgrades and malware prevention for education technology platforms, including student data systems, learning management systems and enrollment management systems.” It can also be used for “system enhancements and modernization efforts” for the CCCApply system, including “building in multifactor authentication, mobile phone compatibility, compatibility with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act,” and streamlining applications. The money may also pay for “monitoring and assessing security risks” and for improving the quality of “online and distance education.”
  • In FY 2022–2023, the bill appropriates $65 million from the general fund to the board of governors of the California Community Colleges, to be allocated to community college districts to “assist with the implementation of transfer reforms” pursuant to the state education code. Potential uses include “reprogramming information technology systems to accommodate a singular general education pathway.”
  • The bill creates the Cybersecurity Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships Pilot Program to “address the cybersecurity workforce gap.” It requires the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University to choose “any number” of CSU campuses, with preference for those “that have or are developing regional pipeline programs in cybersecurity with the California Community Colleges,” to participate by an application process. The bill requires the Chancellor’s Office to develop that process by March 1. It also requires each campus chosen to join to create a pilot program and to each year share its “impact and results” with the Chancellor’s Office – and the Chancellor’s Office to report those results annually to the Legislature.
  • For the board of governors of the California Community Colleges, there’s $23 million in Prop. 98 funds to “expand the delivery of courses through technology.”
  • The integration of technology in various ways plays a significant part in this bill. In two areas, the bill allocates $65.6 million with rounding and $41.9 million with rounding for “integrated technology” in Prop. 98 monies “for local assistance, board of governors of the California Community Colleges.” There’s also $10.6 million for continuing to provide a “systemwide and integrated online infrastructure” to support education continuity and quality distance learning across the CCC. Per the bill, these infrastructure investments can include “access to online tutoring and counseling, ensuring available and accessible technical support, and providing mental health services and other student support services.”
  • There’s also $15 million to be allocated to Merced College by the CCC’s board of governors, for the “Agri-food Technology and Engineering Workforce Collaborative”; and $10 million for Los Angeles Mission College to stand up a “San Fernando Valley regional science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) hub” by building a new biotechnology facility.
  • There’s up to $5 million for “ongoing maintenance, subscription and training costs for financial aid technology advancements and innovations” to streamline the verification process for financial aid and to help colleges more efficiently process state and federal financial aid grants. The Legislature’s intent here, according to the bill, is to reduce “the manual processing of financial aid applications, thereby enabling financial aid program staff to provide additional technical assistance and guidance to students seeking financial aid.”
  • There’s $4 million to expand implementation of the “systemwide technology platform for library services to better manage and deliver digital information” to support learning and teaching, including for those enrolled in distance education. And there’s $1 million on a “one-time basis” to modernize the California Community Colleges Registry’s “interface and technological capability,” in part to enable “centralized recruitment opportunities,” to create a resources repository for job seekers and “college employers,” and to update the system’s capacity for data collection and analysis.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.