Key measures to be addressed when Legislature returns from break
AB 104, which took effect immediately, implements certain requirements for students that struggled academically during the pandemic
Kid holding his hands on his head from frustration
The Legislature headed home for its summer recess on July 15, capping off a busy budget season. When they return in mid-August they will enter the final stages of this year’s legislative session. While big moves were made in the budget on expanding and creating new programs, bills on late start and education funding have been delayed to 2022 and it remains to be seen how the Legislature will proceed on other key measures when they return from recess.
Major program expansions
The final budget agreement and the follow-up education budget trailer bill (Assembly Bill 130) are the major story of the legislative session so far. The budget contained significant increases in funding for schools, and Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature also took advantage of unexpectedly high revenues to create new programs and fund major program expansions. Upon much advocacy from CSBA and other educational advocacy organizations, funding to fully retire all funding deferrals from the current budget year was included.

The final budget and trailer bill also included a major expansion of transitional kindergarten to include all 4-year-olds by the 2025–26 school year, as well as the Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant Program to provide students with programs to combat the learning disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds were also dedicated to expand and create new community schools across the state and for a universal meals program to provide two free meals each day for every student. In another major win for schools, $6 billion was provided for broadband access across the state, funding middle-mile and last-mile networks as well as local broadband.

Yet, while these expansions address areas of great need for California’s students, many of the proposed funds are one-time money for new categorical grant programs that generally require ongoing funding. The use of one-time funding to establish new categorical programs, no matter how worthy, will present significant short-term challenges as funding ends, and CSBA will continue to advocate for sustainable, long-term funding for schools.

Legislation adopted for the coming school year
A key piece of legislation already passed is AB 104 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego), which was signed into law and took immediate effect on July 1. Aimed at helping students recover from the pandemic, it requires local educational agencies to implement a supplemental retention policy in 2021–22 to allow students who failed at least half of their coursework in 2020–21 to request to repeat their grade; allow high school students to apply to change their 2021–22 letter grades to Pass/No Pass; and exempt juniors and seniors in 2020–21 who are not on track to graduate from local coursework and graduation requirements, and offer those students opportunities to complete the statewide coursework required for graduation. CSBA initially took an Oppose position but moved to Neutral after working with the author to remove provisions that would have required LEAs to develop a retention policy and notify parents by early summer and to provide parents with a decision on a pupil’s retention application by July 15.
Key bills on education funding and late start pushed to 2022
A number of significant education bills have been put on hold, including two measures that would have placed bonds to fund school facilities construction and modernization before the voters in 2022. AB 75 (O’Donnell, D- Long Beach) and Senate Bill 22 (Glazer, D-Contra Costa), were both made two-year bills and pushed to the second year of the 2021–22 session. CSBA has taken a Support position on both measures and will continue its advocacy in 2022.

Also pushed to the second year of the session was a follow-up bill (SB 328, Portantino, D- La Cañada Flintridge) to the legislation that created the “late start” law in 2019. SB 328 was ultimately not set for hearing by the Assembly Education Committee and will likely not be considered for the rest of this year. The delay raises implementation questions for the existing late start legislation; CSBA had taken an Oppose Unless Amended position on SB 328 and sought amendments to delay implementation of the current late start requirement by two years; more clearly define rural school district, middle or junior high schools and high schools for purposes of the late start requirement; and remove ambiguous language prohibiting a local city or county from adopting an ordinance interfering with an LEA’s ability to comply with the requirement. CSBA is now evaluating the existing statute to determine whether there is enough flexibility in the bill to address these concerns and will provide further information on this development.

What’s next?
The Legislature will return to Sacramento on Aug. 16 to consider the remaining bills on its docket before the session ends on Sept. 10. In a year so far largely defined by budget negotiations, key legislation still remains for the session’s final weeks. CSBA will closely monitor and advocate on a number of measures, including a proposal to add ethnic studies to the state graduation requirements and several labor bills that would significantly, and negatively, impact LEAs’ ability to handle classified and certificated personnel decisions.