CSBA-sponsored bill package advances
Includes increased funding for cybersecurity, student health and addressing the teacher shortage

Policy committees in both the Senate and the Assembly are working their way through the thousands of new bills introduced since the session began in December. Among the measures is a substantial package of CSBA-sponsored legislation that together will help increase support for districts facing cyberattacks, provide greater ability for school districts to address the teacher shortage, help boards appoint student members, and increase funding for student health.

Boosting support for school cybersecurity
As schools face a rising tide of ransomware attacks, Assembly Bill 1023 (Papan, D-San Mateo) will increase support for school districts to strengthen their cybersecurity. While Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed funding in this year’s budget to enhance the California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), this support is not specific to schools. More is needed to help local educational agencies prepare for the threats they are facing.

If passed, this bill will authorize LEAs to use discretionary funding provided under the Arts, Music & Instructional Materials Block Grant for cybersecurity purposes, in keeping with the intent of the block grant to allow districts to use these funds for operational costs. It would also ensure that any actions undertaken by Cal-CISC include efforts to serve LEAs specifically.

Helping districts address the teacher shortage
Even prior to the pandemic California was experiencing a severe educational workforce shortage. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s teacher shortage has been vastly exacerbated as greater proportions of teachers choose to leave the profession. To help address this crisis, CSBA is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 765 (Portantino, D-Burbank) with state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. This bill will waive the 180-day mandatory waiting period LEAs must observe before hiring a recently retired teacher and increase the maximum grant award for the Teacher Residency Grant Program from $25,000 to $65,000 per teaching candidate.

SB 765 would provide an additional much-needed tool LEAs can use to address our state’s school staffing shortages. Retired teachers and other staff are some of the best-equipped candidates to hit the ground running and provide the best instruction and services to our students. This change would provide immediate relief, and although a temporary solution, it is a critical tool available to help schools ensure that all students have a qualified teacher in their classrooms.

Supporting COEs in appointing student board members

AB 417 (Bennett, D-Ventura) would provide needed follow up to 2022 legislation allowing county boards of education to appoint a student board member in case of a vacancy if no student petitions for appointment. This bill would address a loophole in current law — in cases where a county board of education does not receive a student petition to create a student board member, the board may only select a student enrolled at a local school district high school — not a student enrolled in a high school under the jurisdiction of the county board. CSBA is sponsoring the bill to remedy this inequity, allowing students in high schools maintained by the county board of education an equal opportunity to serve on their governing board.

a teenaged student speaks to an advisor in an office

Supporting student health services

Finally, CSBA is co-sponsoring AB 483 (Muratsuchi) to improve access to student health services. This bill would streamline reimbursement and funding for the Medi-Cal Local Education Agency Medi-Cal Billing Option Program (LEA BOP). AB 483 will help increase funding available to support student health services by improving LEA BOP and requiring the Department of Health Care Services to streamline its auditing process.
Additional CSBA proposals become two-year bills
Three CSBA proposals have been made “two-year bills,” meaning that they will not move forward in 2023 but may return in 2024 for the second year of the 2023–24 legislative session.

Senate Bill 645 (Ochoa-Bogh, R-Yucaipa), would have modernized the small district administrator cap to address the unique challenges facing small school districts in California. Under current law, school districts are limited in the number of administrators they can hire based upon the number of teachers they have. While intended to avoid districts becoming too “top heavy,” the cap arbitrarily limits many small school districts to just one or two administrators. This forces superintendents to play multiple roles, preventing them from focusing on their core responsibilities and often leading to burnout, and limits the ability of small school districts to hire the number of leaders they need to serve their students equitably. By modernizing the administrator-to-teacher ratio cap for small districts, SB 645 would allow these districts to hire the appropriate number of administrators based upon school size.

AB 906 (Gipson, D-Carson), co-sponsored with the California County Superintendents and the Los Angeles County Office of Education, would address the need for sufficient and predictable resources for COE-operated juvenile court schools and community schools. Under current law, students referred to juvenile court schools and county community schools are underserved by an exclusively attendance-based funding model that is insufficient for the unique staffing and programming necessary in these schools. AB 906 would establish a base funding level that is more equitable and reflective of current day realities for these important programs. CSBA, California County Superintendents and LACOE will continue to advocate for greater support of students in juvenile court and county community schools through the education budget trailer bill process.

Lastly, SB 551 (Portantino) would have required county mental health departments to work directly with LEAs in the provision of student mental health services using Proposition 63 funding and enhance the collaboration between county mental health agencies and school districts.

What’s next?
CSBA Governmental Relations staff are working with stakeholders in both houses of the Legislature to advance this package of sponsored bills, supported by CSBA members’ advocacy. From participating in Legislative Action Week to testifying in policy committees and reaching out to influential legislators, local governance leaders are playing a pivotal role in advancing CSBA’s legislative agenda.