Budget trailer bills respond to CSBA advocacy

Follow-up budget legislation released this weekend revealed the details of the final deal reached by Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature. While legislators did fulfill their constitutional duty to pass a budget bill by June 15 with Senate Bill 154, miles remained between the Legislature’s and Gov. Newsom’s proposals, and key issues for schools remained unresolved.

The education budget trailer bills released on June 26, Assembly Bill/SB 181 and AB/SB 182, offer much more detail. The bulk of the TK-12 budget is covered in the omnibus education bill, AB/SB 181, with AB/SB 182 laying out the details for a $7.9 billion one-time Learning Recovery Emergency Fund.

CSBA advocacy yields wins on base funding, COVID ADA relief and transportation

The final budget deal includes $2.8 billion to support protections for declining enrollment and adopts CSBA and the Association of California School Administrators’ (ACSA) proposal for COVID attendance relief, although with some limits:

  • Adopts 2021–22 average daily attendance (ADA) protections for school districts that can demonstrate they offered independent study to students who were absent due to mandated public health quarantine.
  • Includes declining enrollment protections in the Local Control Funding Formula by allowing school districts to consider their current year, prior year or the average of the three prior years’ ADA in funding calculations.
  • Provides $413 million one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for declining enrollment protections for classroom-based charter schools for the 2021–22 fiscal year.

AB/SB 181 also provides a desperately needed boost in funding for home-to-school transportation, reflecting CSBA’s dedicated advocacy for addressing California’s decades-long disinvestment in the program. The bill:

  • Allows local educational agencies, starting in 2022–23, to receive 60 percent of their reimbursed costs for home-to-school transportation programs as a continuous appropriation.
  • Increases funding for home-to-school transportation by $637 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funding and provides and annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA)  to 60 percent of LEAs’ transportation costs or their current LCFF Home-to-School transportation LCFF add-on.
  • Requires LEAs develop and adopt a plan to provide transportation services to its students and prohibits charging a fee for unduplicated pupils.
  • Provides $1.5 billion in one-time Proposition 98 funding for a state-wide zero-emissions school bus program, prioritizing low-income and rural LEAs and LEAs purchasing electric school buses with bi-directional charging.

Even more impressive is that the final deal provides a double-digit increase to the LCFF base, another key priority for CSBA’s budget advocacy. AB/SB 181 includes:

  • A 13 percent overall increase in LCFF, which includes a 6.56 percent COLA.
  • $4.32 billion increase to the LCFF base, above the statutorily required COLA.
  • $771 million for LCFF growth and COLA.
  • $500 million in ongoing Prop 98 General Fund for the special education funding formula to increase the base rate to $820.
  • An ongoing $101.2 million Proposition 98 General Fund increase for county offices of education through their LCFF allocation.

Creation of $7.9 billion Learning Recovery Emergency Fund

AB/SB 182 creates the Learning Recovery Emergency Fund and allocates $7.9 billion in one-time Prop 98 funds for use over a period of six years through the 2027–28 school year for learning recovery initiatives.

  • Funds will be allocated based on the LEA’s unduplicated pupil count.
  • Funds can be used for:
    • Instructional learning time, providing summer school or intersessional instructional programs, or taking any other action that increases or stabilizes the amount of instructional time or services provided to pupils, or decreases or stabilizes staff-to-pupil ratios, based on pupil learning needs.
    • Implementation, expansion or enhancement of learning supports.
    • Addressing other barriers to learning, such as providing health, counseling or mental health services, school meals, or programs to address trauma.

Proposals consolidated into Arts and Music Block Grant

The budget deal consolidates a number of grant programs proposed by the Governor into a single block grant:

  • $3.48 billion is allocated for the Arts, Music, and Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant.
  • Funds will be allocated to LEAs based on their ADA.

Transitional kindergarten

The omnibus legislation (AB/SB 181) also covers new funds and changes for transitional kindergarten, including:

  • Approximately $611 million Proposition 98 General Fund to rebench the Proposition 98 Guarantee to accommodate TK expansion enrollment increases.
  • $300 million additional one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for additional Pre-Kindergarten Planning and Implementation Grants.
  • $650 million one-time General Fund for the California Preschool, Transitional Kindergarten and Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program.
  • $383 million Proposition 98 General Fund to reduce the TK adult-to-student ratio.
  • Maintaining the existing student to teacher ratio at 24-1 rather than the proposed reduction to 20-1 in the Governor’s January Budget.
  • Creating a separate Grade Span Adjustment for TK of $2,813 per student, similar to the LCFF Grade Span Adjustment for K-3 and 9-12. LEAs receiving these funds will need to keep class sizes in TK at 24:1 unless there is a collective bargaining agreement providing a higher number, similar to what is required for the K-3 Grade Span Adjustment.
  • Requiring the California Department of Education to collect and track transitional kindergarten pupil data as a distinct grade, rather than program, in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System.

One-time funds for school nutrition programs

SB 154, the initial budget bill passed earlier this month, included $611.8 million in funding to increase reimbursement rates for school meals under the state’s new universal school meals program. These funds would offset the coming expiration of the federal waiver allowing higher federal meal reimbursement rates. AB/SB 181 builds on that funding with additional investments:

  • $600 million, one-time Prop 98 General Fund for kitchen infrastructure grants to support LEAs in preparing for universal meals implementation, and the preparation of healthy, local, plant-based and dietary-restricted meals. The bill also permits carryover for purposes of the 2021–22 Budget Act’s Kitchen Infrastructure Grant.
  • $100 million Prop 98 General Fund for one-time school meals Food Best Practices procurement grant. Eligible foods include California-grown, plant-based and special dietary-restriction necessities for students in the existing universal school meal program.

Additional funds for Expanded Learning Opportunities Program (ELOP)

The deal provides an additional $3 billion in ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund for the ELOP, bringing total funding to $4 billion in ongoing for after-school and summer programs.

  • Schools are required to offer services to all students will receive grant amounts of $2,750 per unduplicated pupil, while schools required to serve half their low-income, foster-youth and dual-language-learner students will receive $1,250.
  • The bill also requires school districts to provide transportation to a school site with an operational ELOP to a student who wishes to participate in an ELOP but is enrolled in a school where there is no ELOP in operation.

Workforce development

AB/SB 181 includes a number of education workforce development provisions, including:

  • $184 million additional one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the Teacher Residency Grant Program. It also expands eligibility to school counselors and extends the sunset deadline by one year to 2030.
  • $20 million for a state technical assistance center for teacher residency programs.
  • $35 million in Proposition 98 General Fund for the Educator Workforce Investment Grant, for English learner, special needs and computer science educators.
  • Extending the substitute teacher 60-day maximums through the 2022–23 school year, and conforming retirement policy.
  • $1.7 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the existing Center on Teacher Careers.
  • $85 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for a math and science professional development program.
  • $35 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the Classified School Employee Summer Assistance program.
  • Clarifying changes to the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant to support increased educator access to standards-aligned professional support for high-need areas of instruction.
  • Statutory changes to the Integrated Teacher Preparation Program, to promote four-year teacher credential and degree initiatives.
  • Clarifying statutory changes to the 21st Century California School Leadership Academy program.
  • Expanding eligibility for the Golden State Teachers Program to candidates seeking pupil personnel services credentials.

Boost for school facilities, with intent for more

In addition to the funds provided for the California Preschool, Transitional Kindergarten and Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program, AB/SB 181 provides $1.3 billion General Fund for the School Facility Program.

  • The bill also includes language expressing the Legislature’s intent to provide for a total of $4.24 billion General Fund into 2025, after the remaining $1.4 billion bond fund authority for new construction and modernization is exhausted.

Increase for special education base rate

The legislation increases the special education base rate to $820, makes statutory changes to calculate special education funding rates by LEA ADA, and requires CDE to report the calculation publicly. In addition, it:

  • Creates an alternate pathway to a diploma for individuals with exceptional needs and provides exemptions for students who take alternate assessments.
  • Adopts changes to independent study to clarify requirements for special education students, clarify synchronous instruction allowances and clarify chronic attendance triggers for tiered re-engagement and signature timelines.
  • Requires an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) addendum process for the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) that will be adopted by the State Board of Education by 2025 to coordinate the IDEA spending planning process with existing LCAP spending planning.
  • Shifts funding for Educationally Related Mental Health Services funds from Special Education Local Plan Areas to LEAs beginning in the 2023–24 fiscal year.
  • Allows nonpublic schools providing contracted special education services to receive funding, as specified.
  • Makes statutory changes to authorize additional General Fund for special education programs, with consideration of property tax fund availability.

Additional funding for community schools

AB/SB 181 provides an additional $1.1 billion Proposition 98 General Fund for the California Community School Partnership Program.

Investments in literacy coaching

The deal includes investments in programs to boost literacy education in the state:

  • $250 million in one-time funds for a literacy coaches program with minimum grant awards of $450,000 per school site, over five years, to hire literacy coaches and implement evidence-based literacy action plans for preK through grade 3.
  • $15 million in one-time Proposition 98 funding for 6,000 educators to assist participating in earning reading and literacy instruction authorizations through the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Additional education provisions

The omnibus legislation covers a host of additional education provisions, including:

  • $200 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund, over five years, to expand dual enrollment planning and implementation opportunities coupled with student advising and support services.
  • $100 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the Community Engagement Initiative expansion.
  • $500 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the Golden State Pathways Program to support the development and implementation of college and career educational pathways in critically needed sectors of the economy.
  • $14 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the development of model curricula.
  • An additional $10 million in one-time Proposition 98 General Fund for the Anti-Bias Education Grant Program.
  • $2.2 million in Proposition 98 General Fund backfill for basic aid districts due to property tax revenue losses as a result of the 2020 wildfires.

What’s next?

The suite of budget trailer bills was heard by the budget committees in both houses today, with a vote by the full Senate and Assembly anticipated before the Legislature leaves for its summer recess on July 1 and the new fiscal year begins. Once passed, the Governor will have 12 days to sign the bills into law.