State budget renders some legislation obsolete
Bills on school funding and late start clarification held for 2022
With a month left to go in the 2021 legislative year, the biggest story for K-12 education bills so far is what has not happened: major proposals that didn’t move forward, key measures that were pushed to the second year of the 2021–22 legislative session, and legislation that found itself obsolete after the ambitious state budget was finalized. As the Senate and Assembly make their way through the bills left standing, here is a look back at what didn’t make the cut in 2021 — and what’s on deck for 2022.
Late start update and facilities funding bonds pushed to 2022

Sen. Anthony Portantino’s (D-La Cañada Flintridge) Senate Bill 328, a follow-up bill to the legislation that created the “late start” law in 2019, was ultimately not set for hearing by the Assembly Education Committee and will likely not be taken up again until the second year of the legislative session. CSBA had taken an Oppose Unless Amended position on SB 328, seeking amendments to delay implementation of the current late start requirement by two years; remove ambiguous language prohibiting a local city or county from adopting an ordinance interfering with a local educational agency’s ability to comply with the requirement; and more clearly define what is and is not a rural, middle, junior high and high school for purposes of the late start requirement. With the follow-up bill now delayed, implementation questions may arise for the existing late start requirement, which will go into effect for the 2022–23 school year and CSBA is now evaluating the existing statute to determine whether there is enough flexibility in the bill to address these concerns.

Significant school facilities funding proposals have also been put on hold until 2022. Assembly Bill 75 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach), the Kindergarten-Community Colleges Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2022, would have placed a $12 billion general obligation bond for K-12 and community college facilities construction and modernization projects on the ballot in 2022. Similarly, SB 22 (Glazer, D-Contra Costa), would have placed a $15 billion bond for the construction and modernization of public preschool, K-12, community college, University of California (UC), and California State University (CSU) facilities before the voters in 2022. Both bills were ultimately made two-year bills and pushed into next year. The COVID-19 crisis and schools’ efforts to bring students back safely have brought facilities needs into sharp focus, and CSBA has taken a Support position on both measures and will continue its advocacy in 2022.

AB 14 and SB 4 were introduced to tackle the digital divide by continuing the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund to provide communities with grants to expand broadband access.
Major proposals largely handled in state budget
Fueled by unexpectedly high revenues, the ambitious 2021–22 state budget took on many proposals initially introduced as legislation this year. One of the most significant is the expansion of transitional kindergarten to a universal program (read more about the expansion on page 12). Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s (D-Sacramento) AB 22 was originally introduced as the latest vehicle to accomplish this goal, and if passed would have expanded TK in one-month increments to reach universal eligibility by the 2032–33 school year. Instead, the final state budget included funding to establish a mixed delivery system for universal TK that will begin expanding by two-month increments in 2022–23 and be fully phased in in 2025–26 — making the original bill redundant. In response, AB 22 has been amended to address some of the finer details of TK as implementation of the universal program moves forward, including setting requirements for TK classrooms and clarifying that TK eligibility does not impact families’ eligibility for other child care or preschool programs.

The budget also took on proposals to increase opportunities for prospective teachers to meet existing basic skills proficiency and subject matter proficiency test requirements. CSBA took a Support position on both AB 437 (Kalra, D-San Jose) and AB 312 (Seyarto, R-Murrieta), which were introduced to expand the ways prospective teachers can demonstrate subject matter competency and basic skills proficiency. As in other areas, the budget took this challenge on as well: the final budget agreement waives the basic skills proficiency test requirement for applicants who demonstrate proficiency through qualifying coursework and permits teaching candidates to demonstrate subject matter competency through completion of qualifying higher education coursework. Given the action taken in the budget this year, neither bill will move forward in 2021.

Broadband access was also a major theme for legislation that found itself swept up in the budget process this year. AB 14 (Aguiar Curry, D-Winters) and SB 4 (Gonzalez, D-Long Beach), were introduced to tackle the digital divide by continuing the ongoing collection of funds deposited into the California Advanced Services Fund to provide communities with grants to expand broadband access, and AB 34 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance) proposed placing a $10 billion general obligation bond on the November 2022 ballot to expand public broadband infrastructure.

As one of the first organizations in the state to sound the alarm about the impact distance learning would have on students with inadequate internet access, CSBA took a Support position on all three measures. Ultimately, the 2021–22 state budget made huge strides in achieving the goals of these bills: a historic $6 billion investment in broadband access and infrastructure was allocated to help build out middle- and last-mile connections and support school districts, nonprofits and local governments in underserved areas in financing their own local broadband. As of this writing, the authors of AB 14, AB 34 and SB 4 are continuing to push for passage, with the bills slated to be heard before the Senate and Assembly Appropriations committees.

In addition to these issues, movement is also expected in the final weeks on a proposal to add ethnic studies to the state high school graduation requirements and several labor-backed bills that would significantly and negatively impact LEAs’ ability to handle classified and certificated personnel decisions. CSBA will be closely monitoring and advocating on these measures and others as the legislative year comes to a close.