California Legislature approves state budget; here are the highlights for education funding

Photo by Julie Leopo / EdSourcePhoto by Julie Leopo / EdSourceWith crossed fingers, the Legislature passed and sent a 2020-21 state budget to Gov. Gavin Newsom that will rely on $14 billion in additional congressional coronavirus relief to avert cuts to early and higher education. State funding for K-12 schools will be the same as last year, although school districts and charter schools will have to wait for a year to be repaid for $11 billion in funding.
The sudden onset of the coronavirus created havoc with the state’s economy, opening up a $54 billion budget gap of higher expenses and plunging revenues since Newsom presented his initial budget in January.
The Legislature approved the final, balanced budget along party lines — 29-11 in the Senate and 57-16 in the Assembly — with Republicans criticizing the reliance on borrowing and an extensive use of the state’s rainy day fund.
Following are the highlights in the budget for education.

Prop. 98 funding will fall from $81.5 in 2019-20 to $70.5 billion next year.
Increases for K-12
$11 billion in deferrals (money appropriated but not funded until a year later) will make up the difference. If Congress provides $14 billion to California through the proposed HEROES Act, deferrals and some additional cuts will be reversed.
$6.3 billion, primarily federal CARES Act funding to address coronavirus needs and learning loss, must be spent by Dec. 31.
$2.9 billion to districts for learning loss, distributed to districts based on numbers of low-income students, English learners, foster youth and homeless youth.
$1.5 billion to districts for learning loss distributed based on numbers of special education students.
$1.4 billion to districts based on federal Title I formula.
$980 million to districts based on Local Control Funding Formula.

$2.3 billion in funding relief to pension funds CalPERS and CalSTRS over 2 years.
$645 million more for special education, including $545 million to equalize funding.
$100 million proposed cuts restored for after-school programs critical for low-income working parents.
Other K-12 changes
No layoffs in 2020-21 for teachers and classified employees who provide custodial, nutrition and transportation services.
Per-student funding will be guaranteed at 2019-20 rates before the onset of COVID-19. Additional funding for districts and charter schools with enrollment growth may be dealt with at future date. To be paid districts must fully:
Offer a full year of instruction (180 days for districts, 175 for charters).
Document daily student participation and communicate with parents for students not participating a minimum of three days per week.

California schools will continue to provide 180 days of instruction per year (175 days for charter schools). Instructional minutes will be reduced to a minimum 240 minutes per day for grades 4-12 (180 minutes for kindergarten, 230 minutes for grades 1 to 3) in an effort to offer teachers more flexibility during distance learning (see section 43501 of AB-77).
If permitted by the local health agency, districts must provide some form of in-school instruction (see sections 43502 and 43503 of AB 77).
In lieu of a full Local Control Accountability Plan, by Sept. 30 districts must do a Learning Continuity and Attendance plan describing how they will respond to the impact of the coronavirus on in-school and district learning, learning loss and students’ mental health (see section 43509 of AB 77).
Community colleges
Spending levels will be maintained — $1.45 billion in funding to colleges will be deferred; $791 million of deferrals will be rescinded if the federal government provides additional stimulus aid.
Calbright College, the system’s online college, survived calls for elimination. Instead, it will lose $5 million of $20 million in ongoing funds and $40 million from the $117 million in unspent one-time funds.

In response to reports of uneven access and low-quality distance learning during school closures, legislators will require districts to do the following (see section 43502 of AB-77):
Confirm that all students have access to a computer and internet at home in order to participate in distance learning.
Provide standards-aligned content and instruction.
Provide daily live interaction with students “for the purposes of instruction, progress monitoring and maintaining school connectedness”.
Maintain regular communication with parents on student progress.
Establish procedures to re-engage students who are absent for more than 60% of instruction per week.
Provide academic supports for English learners, students with disabilities, foster youth, homeless students and students who have fallen behind in their academic progress.
Continue special education services.

While the budget doesn’t set aside new money for alternatives to school police, the Legislature is urging school districts to reduce or eliminate their police expenditures and invest more in counseling, restorative justice, social workers and other services meant to support students, including anti-bias training for teachers.

 Subsidies for low-income children will be preserved at current rates (no 10% cuts as proposed by Newsom).
Child care subsidies for essential workers will be extended for 90 more days.
Low-income essential workers will be given priority alongside foster children, homeless children and children with special needs for ongoing year-long subsidies if they meet the income requirement (85% of the state median income, or $84,822 for a family of four).
Child care providers who receive subsidies for low-income children will be able to continue to receive those subsidies for another year, even if the children are absent because of Covid-19, as long as they are either open or providing distance learning.
The budget eliminates investments from 2019-20 for expanding state-subsidized preschool for 10,000 more 4-year-olds, building more preschool, child care and full-day kindergarten facilities, and training more early education teachers.
If the federal HEROES act is passed, the budget provides subsidized child care for about 15,000 more children and $150 million toward helping child care providers reopen and pay for additional supplies and staff to meet health and safety guidelines.
For more information, go here.

University of California
The budget restores the increase in support by 5%, or $169 million, as proposed in Newsom’s budget.
If Congress doesn’t provide additional stimulus relief by Oct. 1, the budget will be cut $470 million.
The budget includes a $6 million increase, using federal funds, to the UC Subject Matter Projects, which prepare materials and training for K-12 teachers in various subjects.
California State University
The budget restores the increase in support by 5%, or $199 million, as proposed in Newsom’s budget.
 If Congress doesn’t provide additional stimulus relief by Oct. 1, the budget will be cut $500 million.
The budget redirects $146 million in unspent deferred maintenance funds to support core operations, including enrollment and student support services.
EdSource writers Zaidee Stavely, Sydney Johnson, Carolyn Jones, Michael Burke and John Fensterwald contributed to this article. 

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