CSBA webinars explore expanded learning opportunities
District leaders and education experts offered insights on funding and program opportunities
Three children's hands painting a colorful wall mural with paint brushes
School district leaders and researchers explored various strategies, investments and best practices for expanded learning initiatives that can address the disruption of COVID-19 on education this summer and beyond in a recent CSBA webinar series.

In part one, “School’s in for Summer: Strategies for Successful Summer Programs and Beyond,” experts discussed how districts can best leverage state and federal funding to support students and provided examples of how some local educational agencies were planning for summer learning.

The second of the two-part series, “Expanded Learning: Governance for Developing Effective Learning Recovery Plans,” highlighted the importance of using evidence-based practices and scaffolding supports to ensure students re-engage in their learning in the fall. In fact, a recent influx of federal and state funds requires that a percentage be used for evidence-based learning recovery strategies.

“What we’re talking about is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to engage our students, engage our staff and engage our communities in a very different way,” said Jeff Harris, superintendent of Del Norte County Unified School District. “This coming year can’t be about remediation — it really needs to be about intervention to the extent you need it, but really about acceleration. It really is about looking at the data to determine what students need.”

Harris, as well as officials and trustees from districts including Jurupa USD, San Diego USD, Newman-Crows Landing USD, Rio School District, Orange USD and West Covina USD detailed their LEAs’ expanded learning plans for the summer and upcoming school year over the course of the series.

District plans include increasing after-school tutoring and other programming as well as transportation capacity to allow participation among bus-riding students, expansion of mental health services and social-emotional learning, improving reading intervention for early learners and credit recovery for older youth, expanding professional development, reducing class sizes, improving family and community outreach, and training and hiring additional staff.

ELO strategies backed by research, one-time funding
The substantial influx in federal and state funding can help LEAs implement the types of program and training opportunities listed above, according to Kelsey Krausen, senior engagement manager of WestEd’s Comprehensive School Assistance Program.

Of the $6.6 billion provided to LEAs through California’s Assembly Bill 86, $4.6 billion was allocated in the form of Expanded Learning Opportunities Grants, which can only be spent on extending instructional learning time, integrated pupil supports, community learning hubs, additional academic services, training for school staff, supports for credit-deficient pupils and accelerating progress to close learning gaps.

LEAs should be wary of allocating one-time funding for ongoing spending with no end date, such as teacher salaries. However, that doesn’t mean districts can’t get creative in using the funding, even for staffing, Krausen said.

Common themes among great summer programs
Effective summer programs shouldn’t mimic traditional summer school, said Jessica Gunderson, senior advisor of policy and communications at the Partnership for Children & Youth. Core elements of summer learning programs include broadening students’ horizons by having a wide variety of activities, helping children build new skills and foster cooperative learning and promotes healthy habits.

In San Diego USD, summer programming is being planned in partnership with community-based organizations, said Board President Richard Barrera. On weekday mornings, students will go to school in-person or online for academic instruction with a focus on project-based learning. In the afternoon, they will have the chance to take part in community-based programs.

“We’re expecting to see a lot of creative options ranging from swim camps and surf camps to music and art and science camps. They will be very neighborhood-based programs in some situations and programs that are available throughout the city,” Barrera said. “We will make our district transportation available to take our students from school in the morning to the after-school programs that parents will select.”

The four factors of effective programs are duration (four-to-five weeks), regular attendance, quality instruction and positive climate. To generate regular attendance, Gunderson suggested building around student needs, linking to intentional learning goals, creating a positive climate with incentives, offering a blend of academics and enrichment, focusing on quality of staff and communicating extensively with families.

Catch up on the latest webinar series now at and find additional resources and information at