Agricultural Incentive Grant Updates

By: Hugh Mooney, Regional Supervisor, California Department of Education

As we begin a new school year, it is interesting to hear how agricultural teachers are dealing with the many unique challenges that the profession faces this year with all the uncertainty and politics related to COVID-19. In the Superior Region, we have schools that are fully open and schools that are limited to distance learning. This creates its own set of challenges. Like all challenges faced by the Agricultural Education profession, we will survive and likely be stronger when we can engage students in the many activities we know they love.

A challenge that I was tasked with was leading a process that will convert the Agricultural Incentive Grant from one funded based on inputs to one funded based on outputs. Hopefully you have heard about the direction we are moving from discussions in your regions. We also discussed this during the Secondary Division Session during the Virtual CATA Conference. I have been working with a committee of six (one from each region). The committee consists of Doug Sehnert, Lauren Peterson, Randy Mendes, Cali Griffin, Dick Piersma and Clay Freeman. This committee will assist with leading discussions at your region meetings.

We will be hosting some opportunities for you to participate in a Zoom discussion about the details of the future funding structure. I am not ready to set the dates, because I need to complete some discussions with AET, whom we will be gathering much of our data through. These statewide Zoom discussions will occur before the region meetings. There will be multiple opportunities to participate in the discussion via Zoom.

The funding will have several portions to it. There will be criteria that a program must meet to earn base funding. There will be additional funding available for programs that excel in classroom discussion, leadership development, SAE, and what we are currently calling Outstanding Program Bonus.

The base funding criteria include the following:

  1. Properly credentialed teachers. (Single Subject in Agriculture combined with an Agriculture Specialist Credential is preferred. CTE Credential with designation in Agriculture and/or credential earned from another state. Credentials from other states will need approval from state staff.)
  2. Each agricultural teacher has participated in a minimum of six approved professional development activities. (At least four must come from the list of items 2.a through 2.o. The Region Supervisor may approve additional activities in advance.)
  1. The program must have a minimum of a three-year course sequence.
  2. Evidence is provided that student participation in FFA and SAE components are graded as stated in California Education Code 52454. (Department policy exists identifying such grading policy.)
  3. The program offers at least one course that provides an alternative means for a student to meet graduation and/or UC, CSU admission.
  4. The chapter has a current FFA Constitution/By-Laws that includes a process that describes how chapter officers are selected. Members’ votes are used in the process to elect the Chapter Officers.
  5. The chapter has agendas and minutes to document at least six FFA Chapter meetings annually. 
  6. Agendas and minutes are provided for a minimum of two Agriculture Advisory Committee meetings annually.
  7. Base funding will be created by a formula that will factor the previous year’s data and the number of FTE Agricultural Education teachers at the site.

The current plan moving forward is as follows: 

Continue to discuss the plan with the profession through statewide Zoom meetings, region meetings and other opportunities for discussion. During the January State Staff Meeting, any needed revisions to the plan will be made and then it will be submitted to the California Department of Education for what may be an extended process to have the new funding model approved. It is our hope to use the 2021-2022 school year as a base. This will allow us to have a “normal” year to identify realistic levels of involvement in the quality criteria we have identified for funding. If all goes as planned this new funding model will be used for the 2022-2023 school year.

We want to be transparent in this transition to an output based funding model. There have been very limited changes to the funding model of the Agricultural Incentive Grant since its inception in 1983. This funding model I believe will be one that many in State Government will embrace. This could lead to additional funding opportunities.

I look forward to your questions.

For more information about the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association, visit http://calagteachers.org/

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