Earlier today Senate Bill 820, the K-12 “clean-up” budget trailer bill, was amended to include clarifications to portions of the 2020 budget package adopted in June. Some of the key provisions of SB 820 allow for increased funding based on enrollment or Average Daily Attendance (ADA) growth in 2020-21, make modifications related to Williams visits and reports by county superintendents, provide more flexible expenditure rules and expenditure timelines related to learning loss mitigation funds, create alignment among new accountability measures for the 2020-21 school year, and provide some clarifications related to distance learning videos and recordings.
These budget trailer bills typically include consensus items among the Administration and each house of the Legislature based on concerns and requests for clarification raised by local education agencies (LEAs) and state agencies after passage of the budget. However, with the impact of COVID-19 this is not a typical year, and the current friction between the two houses makes it possible SB 820 will get caught up in some last minute politics before the August 31, 2020 deadline.
Some key issues are highlighted below.
Enrollment or ADA Growth
SB 820 addresses the issue of ADA growth for LEAs (except for nonclassroom-based charters) in the 2020-21 school year.
Recall that SB 98 included a hold-harmless provision that based 2020-21 LEA funding based on 2019-20 ADA reported for all full school months from July 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020.
SB 820 allows LEAs to receive increased apportionments if either the 2020-21 budget adopted by the governing board on or before June 30, 2020 or the LEA’s adopted 2019-20 second interim report explicitly show projected growth in overall pupil enrollment or ADA from its actual 2019-20 level to that projected 2020-21 level.
An LEA will be eligible for an increased apportionment based on growth in overall pupil enrollment from its actual 2019–20 level to its projected 2020–21 level, as documented in its most recent 2020–21 budget adopted by the governing board of the LEA on or before June 30, 2020, or in its adopted 2019–20 second interim report.
If enrollment growth is used to establish eligibility for an apportionment increase, it shall be reduced by the statewide average rate of absence as calculated by the California Department of Education (CDE) for the prior fiscal year. This roughly converts enrollment growth into a proxy for ADA growth.
An LEA will receive the lesser of either the enrollment growth described above or the certified enrollment of the LEA on census day (October 7, 2020) as reported in the California Longitudinal Pupil Achievement Data System (CalPADS) after that enrollment growth is reduced by the statewide average rate of absence as calculated by CDE for the prior fiscal year.
If an LEA does not project or document enrollment growth, it will be eligible for an increased apportionment based on overall ADA growth from its actual 2019–20 level to its projected 2020–21 level, as documented in its most recent 2020–21 budget adopted by the governing board of the LEA on or before June 30, 2020, or in its adopted 2019–20 second interim report.
An LEA will receive the lesser of either the ADA growth described above or the certified enrollment of the LEA on census day (October 7, 2020) as reported in CalPADS reduced by the statewide average rate of absence as calculated by CDE for the prior fiscal year.
Must Apply and Provide Documentation
By October 2, 2020 the CDE shall post an application online for LEAs seeking funding for growth. LEAs must apply by November 6, 2020, and provide specified information and attest that the required documentation is true and correct and is the most recent adopted budget on or before June 30, 2020 or is the 2019-20 second interim report adopted by the governing board.
In addition to these adjustments provided for growth projected in an LEA’s adopted 2020-21 budget or 2019 second interim report, adjustments to 2020-21 ADA will also be made in the case of district reorganizations or charter school closures that lead to enrollment and ADA increases in 2020-21.
Williams Act Site Visits
SB 820 waives or modifies certain provisions of the Williams Act during the portion of the 2019–20 school year in which schools were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and for the 2020–21 school year. For the required annual reports, a county superintendent of schools is authorized to rely on information obtained through means other than a physical visit to the schoolsite, including surveys, and the bill waives the requirement to annually visit those low-performing schools from March 2020 to June 2021, during the period of time the school is not offering in-person instruction.
The annual report shall explain why a schoolsite visit was not conducted and outline plans to conduct a schoolsite visit as soon as possible, and the county superintendent of schools shall provide an updated report before July 1, 2021.
The requirement that 25% of the required school site visits be unannounced is waived, although an unannounced visit may be undertaken at the discretion of the county superintendent of schools in compliance with any orders or guidance issued by any local or state public health official.
Learning Loss Mitigation Funding
SB 820 includes language that would expand the eligible uses for the $5.3 billion in Learning Loss Mitigation (LLM) funding provided in the 2020-21 Budget to also include addressing health and safety concerns, including purchasing public health testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and cleaning supplies.
This change is particularly helpful for those LEAs that did not receive any federal funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund, which went out to LEAs based on the Title I, Part A formula. While LEAs are allowed to use ESSER funding for a broad range of COVID-19 costs, SB 98 limited the use of LLM dollars, which consists of funding from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), and state general fund, to address learning loss, extend the instructional school year, provide additional academic services for students, and provide integrated student supports to address other barriers to learning.
The bill would also amend language in SB 98 to extend the expenditure deadlines for any LLM funding an LEA receives from the federal GEER Fund and the state general fund. An LEA would now have until September 30, 2022 to expend their GEER funding, aligning the state requirement with federal guidance, and until June 20, 2021 to expend any state general fund received as part of their LLM funding. SB 820 does not make any changes to the expenditure deadline for the CRF, which is set in federal law, and any LLM funding from the CRF must still be used only for COVID-19 costs generated from March 1, 2020 to December 30, 2020.
In lieu of their normal local control accountability plans (LCAPs), for the 2020-21 school year, LEAs are required to adopt learning continuity and attendance plans by September 30, 2020 and a budget overview for parents by December 15, 2020. SB 820 would require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) to update the template and instructions for the budget overview for parents to align it with an LEA’s learning continuity plan. Specifically, the bill would require the SPI to update the template by September 15, 2020 to specify the amount of federal funds allocated to an LEA under the CARES Act, replace the requirement to report the total projected general fund expenditures for the ensuring fiscal year with the total budgeted expenditures, and replace the total budgeted expenditures for the ensuring fiscal year on the planned actions and services to meet the goals included in the LEA’s LCAP with the total budgeted expenditures that contribute to increased or improved services for unduplicated students in the learning continuity plan.
The bill would also require the SPI to revise the template for the annual update to the LCAP before January 31, 2021, to reflect the inclusion of the learning continuity plan in the 2021-22 annual update.
SB 820 includes a few modifications of distance learning instruction as allowed by SB 98. The prior consent of a teacher or principal of a school is not required for the adoption or implementation of the use of synchronous or asynchronous video for purposes of distance learning provided by an LEA. However, except as required by an LEA for purposes of distance learning instruction, no person may make any audio, video, or digital recording of an LEA’s live or synchronous distance learning instruction without the prior consent of the teacher and the principal of the school.
Informational Hearing Tomorrow
Tomorrow, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6 on Budget Process, Oversight, and Program Evaluation will hold an informational hearing on the new budget trailer bills. We’ll keep you informed of any notable developments as the week grinds on.
Capitol Advisors Group