President’s Message: Dr. Susan Heredia

From Sacramento to Washington, D.C., CSBA’s legislative efforts take flight

D.C. trip, budget wins and sponsored legislation highlight spring advocacy efforts
In April, CSBA and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) led the inaugural Coast2Coast Federal Advocacy Trip in Washington, D.C. It was a richly rewarding experience and the first of what we hope will become an annual event in which school board members and administrators make the case for additional resources and new legislation to address the challenges California schools face and to create new opportunities for the state’s nearly 6 million students.
Budgeting for success

CSBA’s bread-and-butter will always be our advocacy here in Sacramento and the May Budget Revision underscores how critical that work is. For the past two years, CSBA has argued that the impact of the pandemic will be generational in scope and that the state must recognize the magnitude of the challenges school face and provide opportunities to transform public education in a way that serves all students. That premise was reflected in our budget advocacy, which prioritized a significant increase to Local Control Funding Formula base funding, COVID attendance relief, pension relief, full funding of home-to-school transportation costs and dedicated funding to pay for the buildout of transitional kindergarten facilities.

All about that base
On May 13, Gov. Gavin Newsom released an updated budget proposal that delivered two major victories for CSBA’s budget advocacy — a significant increase to LCFF base funding and a thoughtful approach to COVID average daily attendance (ADA) relief that helps schools dealing with declining enrollment and lower attendance as they recover from the pandemic. In addition to the statutory cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), the May Revise would provide a discretionary increase of $2.1 billion in ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund to LCFF base funding for school districts and $101.2 million ongoing to augment LCFF funding for county offices of education. This is a significant victory for CSBA and a credit to our legislative advocates who championed this issue from the start and persisted when others in Sacramento expressed skepticism. The May Revise proposal is a step in the right direction that is largely attributable to our advocacy, combined with the hard work of ACSA, the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) and others, but it still falls short of what’s needed during this extraordinary moment in history.
Susan Heredia headshot
[Proposed LCFF base funding] is a significant victory for CSBA and a credit to our legislative advocates who championed this issue from the start.”
Dr. Susan Heredia, CSBA President

ADA relief

There is no need for further negotiations where COVID ADA relief is concerned, as this area delivered a clear and unequivocal triumph for CSBA’s lobbying efforts. One of our top budget objectives this year was to ensure that the budget take strong measures to address declining enrollment and sagging attendance numbers, conditions that are affecting the majority of LEAs.

Much to our delight, the May Revise includes fiscal protections for schools that experienced significant attendance declines in the current school year due to delta and omicron surges. The proposal would allow all local educational agencies to be funded at the greater of their current year ADA or their current year enrollment adjusted for pre-COVID-19 attendance rates in the 2021–22 fiscal year and would also modify the three-year rolling average proposed in the January budget to conform with this adjustment.

Pension tensions remain
Member support will be key to making headway on one of the most stubborn issues of the budget cycle — pension relief. Despite robust advocacy on this point, we were disappointed to see that the May Revise contained no provisions for pension relief. Employer pension costs are increasing and currently there is no proposal to continue the assistance provided to schools over the past two years. The burden pension costs place on schools and the resources they divert from the classroom represent a state-created crisis that demands a state-funded, non-Proposition 98 solution. That won’t happen without major pressure from LEAs in every corner of the state, so I encourage you to participate in CSBA’s member advocacy campaign on this issue.
Get on the bus with school transportation
High among the student needs that requires urgent attention and went unaddressed in the May Revise is home-to-school transportation, a high-leverage strategy to boost attendance and increase access to instruction, programs and services that improve student outcomes. As we recover from the pandemic, it’s more critical than ever that students attend schools on time, every day. Yet, because of decades of disinvestment from home-to-school transportation programs, California ranks last nationally with just 10 percent of students taking a bus to school. CSBA-sponsored Assembly Bill 2933 is now the best hope of remedying this problem. AB 2933 provides the funding and flexibility local districts need to expand school busing services without taking from other programs in desperate need of resources.

School busing offers numerous benefits such as boosting attendance, increasing access to instruction, programs and services, enhanced student safety, reduced driving for families, lighter traffic and lower pollution. Across every dimension, fully funded school busing programs go to the heart of our advocacy work — providing every student with the resources, support and opportunity for a high-quality education.

CSBA is your association and we need each and every member’s help to ensure what we have gained in the May Revise becomes part of the 2022–23 state budget, and that we continue to share our LEAs’ stories and advocate for what best serves our students.