Adult Ed Block Grant
General Background: In 2013, the Adult Education Block Grant Act (Ed Code § 84900) was enacted to provide "restricted" funds to community college consortia to help bridge workforce gaps in seven program areas including programs for adults with disabilities (AwD), programs for short term career technical education, programs in elementary and secondary basic skills and others. Ed Code § 84913. The goal was to increase the percentage of students served in these targeted areas to help improve their employment outcomes and to help them overcome barriers. Around this same time, the Governor enacted the Employment First Act, making employment of adults with intellectual disabilities one of the state's "highest priorities."
Who is our consortium? MiraCosta is part of the consortium called the Coastal North County Adult Education Consortium. There were three other members San Dieguito Unified High School District, Carlsbad Unified and Oceanside Unified although the latter two turned over their programming and interest to MiraCosta via MOUs starting in 2013, leaving only MiraCosta and San Dieguito as active, voting members. Per minutes from a consortium meeting on 12/13,17, efforts are being made to try to get Carlsbad and Oceanside to be members again. Back to top
Funding: Consortia submitted their AB86 plans to the state to receive funding. MiraCosta was allocated $3.3 million for its 3-year AB86 plan dated March 1, 2015. MiraCosta is the sole fiscal agent and the sole recipient of the funding (see e.g. the Consortium's 7/31/17 Fiscal Administration Declaration, p. 3). Per the Consortium's state filings, there is approximately $736,734 funds remaining per the Consortium's annual plan filed 8/17/17.
Implementation Grant Plans: Each consortium was provided funding to hire professional researchers to help their district identify which of the seven community groups were most in need of support, and devise a 3-year plan (called an AB86 Plan) to identify steps needed to support the identified communities. Our consortium received over $200,000 to research and devise a plan. The groups prioritized by the AB86 plan were adults with disabilities, ESL, Adult High School and CTE. Adults with disabilities were shown to be the number one most underserved group with a community of around 12,000 and under 2% served (see p. 70 of the AB86 plan). Back to top
Allowable costs: Costs are only allowed if they:
follow the AB104 legislation on public notice and public comment" (i.e. Ed Code § 84905);
"match the objectives and activities" listed in the plans;
are "used for the seven groups identified by the Block Grant Act;
"Substantiate that the cost was necessary and reasonable for proper and effective administration of the allocations,"
are "allocable to the funding source activities,"
are "approved within the 3-year consortia plan and the annual plan template of the regional consortia. Otherwise they are not allowable within that year." Back to top
See "Allowable Uses of AB104 Adult Education Block Grant Funds," from the AEBG Administration.
Prohibited Uses: Public funds must be allocated per the decision making laws of § 84905 of the Ed Code (publicly noticed meetings) to be considered "allowable." Prohibited uses per state memos include:
Expenditures made without public notice and public comment;
1. "Supplanting could happen if you are replacing programs that were funded with other fund sources (like WIOA, Perkins, CalWORKS, Apportionment, etc.) with AEBG funds,"
2. Costs paid for by AEBG funding cannot "be a general expense required to carry out the consortia member's overall responsibilities,"
3. Funds may not be used in a manner that frees up state or local dollars for other purposes, "but should create or augment programs to an extent not possible without AEBG funding,"
4. Funds may not be used as matching funds to replace funds used previously to meet the match requirement.
Indirect Costs: No more than 5% of funds allocated in a year may be used for "indirect costs."
Other Staff Salaries and Benefits: "Program funds cannot be used to pay for any staff that does not directly support the AEBG services described in the consortium's approved plan."
Costs of instruction or other adult education services "cannot be counted towards state apportionment and the AEBG" and "to the fullest extent possible, districts should make every effort to use state apportionment funding for adult education services before using block grant funds." AEBG Memo on "Allowable Uses."
Decision-making procedures and publicly noticed meetings: In order to be eligible for state funding, each consortia must follow the Ed Code's decision making provisions (Ed Code 84905) which require that:
all members of the consortia participate in any decision,
proposed consortium decisions must be considered at an open, properly noticed public meeting at which members of the public may comment,
the consortium provides the public with adequate public notice of proposed decisions and considers public comments submitted by the public,
and distributes publicly the comments submitted by the public.
Note: The Brown Act also applies.
Quarterly public meetings are required: MiraCosta has its own governance rules which require that public meetings be held quarterly. The consortium did not follow state law or its governance rules between the period of May 2016 and December 2017 (no public meetings were held). This was reported to the State of California and an investigation ensued. Back to top
Governance generally - Who Runs the meetings: The Consortium should be run by members appointed by the governing boards of each member district. Per the Consortium's state filings, the MIraCosta Board is at the top of the governance hierarchy. Back to top
Loss of Funding: Per Ed Code § 84914, loss of funding may occur if:
1. The member no longer wishes to provide services that address the needs identified in the adult education plan.
2. The member cannot provide services that address the needs identified in the adult education plan; or
3. The member has been ineffective in providing services that address the needs identified in the adult education plan and reasonable interventions have not resulted in improvements.
Why postsecondary education is needed for adults with disabilities: Day programs have not adequately addressed the unemployment of persons with intellectual disabilities. The Employment First Act recognized that the nearly 90% unemployment rate of these adults warranted more support. The Act recognized that postsecondary education was a tool to help improve employment rates. And, studies show that "significant positive employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual disabilities" result when they attend postsecondary programs (AB86 plan p. 89). Back to top
Adults with intellectual disabilities (AWID) face significant barriers:
Twice as likely to be poor;
Families supporting AWID are also at an increased risk of experiencing poverty because of the costs of care and their resulting exclusion from the workforce to tend to their loved one;
Close to 90% of AWID are unemployed;
AWID are "dramatically overrepresented in the nation's prisons and jails, 4x as likely to be in prison, 6x as likely to be in jail; and
AWID are 7x as likely to be physically abused.
Will Sunita Cook make sure MiraCosta helps these students? So far, there has been no interest from her or her administrators to build the program or use the adult ed block grant funding to meaningfully support AwD to help them access the workforce. Per the available financial report online, approximately $17,000 or under 2% of the adult ed block grant funding has been used annually even though AwD were the #1 most underserved. And this funding is not the only source of funding available. MiraCosta has its general funds, WIOA funds, student success funds, and other funding that could be helping the program but so far, not much has been done. In 2008/09, over 300 students with intellectual disabilities have been served. Per the data shared by the consortium, since her arrival, the numbers have decreased to just over 130. The state considers AwD a priority but so far, not MiraCosta. Back to top
EXAMPLES OF UNRESOLVED CONCERNS RAISED BY THE PUBLIC
(Powerpoint Summary of Issues Submitted to the MiraCosta Board)
CONSORTIUM'S FAILURE TO HAVE PUBLIC MEETINGS:
"Allowable expenditures" are only those made pursuant to the public meeting requirements of the Ed Code (see also the Brown Act). MiraCosta's consortium did not hold public meetings between April 2016 and December 2017 yet it made numerous funding allocations in secret through private "Leadership Team" meetings. (See list of public meetings). Even though the Consortium's own governance rules required quarterly meetings, MIraCosta's administration failed to notice that the consortium was not following its own rules or state law. On at least one occasion, an administrator told a member of the public that no public meetings were required (this administrator has since resigned). Although the public notified administration about the lack of public meetings, it was not until the public brought the issue to the attention of the MCCC Board that consortium meetings finally resumed in December 2017. The public has been waiting since November 2017 to learn what the Consortium is going to do to address the Consortium's use of funds without the required public meetings. So far, no word. The public asked the Board at its February 2018 meeting to list the Consortium on its March 2018 agenda to inform the public what has or is being done to address the consortium's allocation of public funds without the required public meetings.
UPDATE: In February 2018, MiraCosta released a program review report December 19, 2017 in which the state investigator agreed that the Consortium had not held the required public meetings for the period between April 2016 and December 2017.
MISSTATEMENTS ABOUT CONSORTIUM (Audio links provided below)
On December 1, 2017, Dieckmeyer stated to the Academic Senate and others that the Consortium cut the steps and funding that supported the adults with disabilities program because AwD was simply a "subgroup" and because the proposed 2-year program in the AB86 plan called CLEAR Paths was "too costly." It does not appear that she read MiraCosta's AB86 plan (or read it thoroughly), because it identified AwD as one of the main groups for purposes of the AEBG funding, not as a subgroup, and the Ed Code itself does not use any subgroups despite her representation to the contrary. (Audio tape of her statements is available below).
These statements appear to be incorrect:
1. "AwD are but one of many Subgroups?": After the state Community College Chancellor's Office was contacted, advocates were notified in writing that AwD is not a subgroup and that "no subgroups" have been created for purposes of the block grant funding and that the state follows the law which does not recognize or have subgroups. They were told that the administrator must have confused the fields set for data collection to track the services provided to the AEBG groups with the AB86 program support for those groups. Ed Code § 84913. Below is audio of her "subgroup" statement:
2. "Too Costly?": Dieckmeyer stated to the public and the Academic Senate that the 2-year college to career CLEAR Paths program was cut because it was "too costly" of a program and shared how she was familiar with the costly program of TAFT's 2-year Transition to Independent Living program. First, her statement contradicts the professional research conducted over a 2-year period to create the block grant plan that found that such programs are usually implemented at "low to no cost" to the sponsoring community college. The public also shared communications from TAFT directly and other similar programs that these types of 2-year programs are funded by other sources such as California Regional Centers and Department of Rehabilitation and therefore are not "costly" to the sponsoring community college.
3. Cuts made? Statements were made that the Consortium consisted of MiraCosta, San Dieguito Union High School District, Carlsbad Unified and Oceanside Unified and that these consortium members had together cut various components of the block grant plant with respect to the AwD program. Specifically, that they had cut the full-time faculty position recommended for the AwD program and the CLEAR Path program, a 2-year transition program.
• However, neither Carlsbad Unified nor Oceanside Unified are current members and as noted in the consortium's 12/13/17 minutes, the Consortium is currently reaching out to those districts to get them to become members (see 12/13/17 minutes § 5(A).
• Also, the minutes from the Consortium's January 18, 2016 meeting fail to mention any cuts and actually show that as of that date, the Consortium was focusing on collecting information related to students with developmental disabilities to identify barriers and build bridges. The April 18, 2016 minutes similarly fail to mention any cuts. There were no public meetings held after April 18, 2016 until December 13, 2017, and no cuts were made in December either.
• The public asked if there were any documents to support the statements that the cuts had been made and MiraCosta responded that it has not found any responsive documents. Back to top
CONSORTIUM MAY HAVE EXCEEDED THE 5% ADMINISTRATION COSTS CAP.
• The AEBG (Ed Code § 84913) prohibits a consortium from using more than 5% of the funds allocated for a given year to pay for administration of the programs and the costs of the consortium.
• Personnel requests and other documents suggest that this 5% cap was ignored.
• The block grant administrator's salary alone exceeded this cap per personnel requests produced. For example, in 2015/16, the Consortium received $1,101,772. Five percent of that would equal $55,089. The salary offered to the Consortium administrator was $59,942 and there were several other people hired including an interim secretary ($8,973 for 5 months), block grant coordinator ($15,872 for 6 months), campus aides, research analyst, and others. In 2016/17, the Consortium received $1132,500, so 5% would be $56,625 . Yet, the block grant supervisor was paid $69,503+, the block grant secretary was paid $8,363 (for six months), the WIOA Grant Supervisor $71,000, in addition to numerous other staff.
• Some of the hires were to coordinate other programs which receive their own funding. In 2016, the Consortium hired a new administrator with a beginning salary of $69,503, again exceeding the 5% cap. Back to top
CONSORTIUM MAY HAVE IMPROPERLY ALLOCATED FUNDING TO STAFF FOR WIOA:
Allowable expenditures using block grant funds are only those that have been approved per the AB86 Plan and per the Consortium's annual plans. Grant funds may not be used for administrative costs that exceeds 5% of the funds received in a given year. Creation of a WIOA Grant Supervisor and use of the block grant for the position was not included in the AB86 plan or annual plans. Also, under the fiscal management guidelines, block grant funding may not be used to supplant other MiraCosta costs. However ...
Per MiraCosta records, at some point after May 16, 2017 a personnel request was approved that authorized a change in the funding source for the WIOA position to the Adult Ed Block Grant. The funding source change meant that the state Adult Ed Block Grant would be used to pay $71,000 for the WIOA administrator responsible for implementing the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant (WIOA) (see screenshots of personnel request below).
MiraCosta approved the use of block grant funds to pay the $71,000 for the WIOA Grant Supervisor position even though this salary may have violated the 5% cap on administration costs under both the Adult Ed Block Grant Act as well as WIOA, and may not have been an allowable use because the Consortium's public meeting minutes and the AB86 plan do not show that this $71,000 was approved by the Consortium in a public meeting. If the Adult Block Grant Funds were improperly used to pay for the WIOA grant supervisor, the public wants to know what and when corrective action will be taken. Back to top
• In February 2018, MiraCosta release a program review report dated 12/19/17 written by a state employee agreeing that the use of AEBG funds for the WIOA coordinator position was questionable.
• In March 2018, MiraCosta will eliminate the position finding that the use of AEBG funds for the position was "not an allowable use."
Audio from 12/1 Academic Senate meeting
Audio from 12/1 Academic Senate meeting about cuts supposedly being made.