School Opening and Budget Trailer Clean Up on Independent Study

August 30, 2021

​The Hon. Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Hon. Toni Atkins
Senate President pro Tempore
State California, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Hon. Anthony Rendon
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Nancy Skinner
Chair, Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee
State Capitol, Room 5019
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Phil Ting
Chair Assembly Budget Committee
State Capitol, Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: School Opening and Budget Trailer Clean Up on Independent Study

Dear Governor Newsom, Senate pro Tem Atkins, Assembly Speaker Rendon, Senator Skinner and Assemblymember Ting:

We write on behalf of the California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD). As the new school year begins, in-person school has been the choice for the majority of our students and families. Teachers, staff, principals and district leaders are heartened by the return to full-time in person instruction, with independent study programs available for those who choose. Our schools and communities are encouraging all those eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination and are participating in events to promote opportunities. Schools are enforcing state health orders including mask wearing and school facilities have been enhanced to provide additional layers of safety mitigation including ventilation systems, equipment, and custodial services. We thank the Legislature and the Administration for supporting students, parents and educators throughout the pandemic and for providing state policies and fiscal resources to help schools address the impact of the pandemic.

Despite these measures and the commitment to in-person instruction, the spread of the Delta variant and the increasing numbers of students requiring quarantine and contact tracing are proving challenging to our schools. We urge the legislature to address these five critical issues outlined below before the legislative recess begins:

  • Authorize students to participate in short term independent study for more than 15 days a year when the reason for placement is due to quarantine. The current 15 day per year maximum on individual students for short term independent study is bumping up against the rise in positive COVID-19 cases and student quarantine requirements. We believe that individual students may require quarantine multiple times in the year. In addition, for some students identified through contract tracing, they may have to quarantine for 20 days at a time.
  • Clarify that LEAs will not lose ADA funding for students who have to quarantine. We were glad to hear last week on the Safe Opening of Schools webinar convened by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, that there would be clean-up language on this issue. There will likely be quarantines happening throughout the school year and it does not seem that J-13A waivers are designed for these types of occurrences.
  • Authorize local use of instruction via a virtual platform, e.g., zoom, in instances where full classes or schools must quarantine and ensure that local educational agencies will receive ADA in these situations. When AB 130 was drafted and enacted, the COVID-19 context was different, and we did not anticipate the large numbers of students who would be required to quarantine. In instances where large numbers of students from the same school must quarantine, educational continuity, operational logistics, and parent choice make this limited-term distance learning a reasonable solution.
  • Provide flexibility to allow any qualified credentialed teacher to teach independent study courses, even if they are not a part of the IS team, for short periods of time for those students who are in quarantine. The existing teacher shortage has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Now, with ever increasing numbers of students participating in independent study, the challenges are at a critical point.
  • Amend definition of parent-pupil-educator conference in EC 51745.5 (c) so that not all parties who signed the pupil’s written agreement must be present. There are numerous individuals who sign these agreements (see Ed Code 51747 (g)(9)(A). For example, clinicians who provide behavioral health services, speech, and language therapists, Title I tutors. In many instances, conferences are called to address specific issues, that might pertain to one class. The requirement to have all the staff who signed the agreement present at every conference will result in scheduling delays in order to accommodate so many different individuals’ calendars. We recommend requiring the presence of staff who provide services directly related to the meeting purpose.

These actions will make an important difference for schools to ensure they can accommodate student needs in light of the continued pandemic and provide high quality teaching and learning.

Thank you again for your commitment to California’s students and to the health and safety of all Californians. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us via e-mail at andrea@ballfrostgroup.com and jeff@ballfrostgroup.com.

Sincerely,


Andrea Ball
Legislative Advocate
California Association of Suburban School Districts


Jeffrey Frost
Legislative Advocate
California Association of Suburban School Districts


Copy:
Hon. Tony Thurmond, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Members, Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee
Members, Assembly Budget Committee

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CALSSD Statement on Final Budget Agreement for Fiscal Year 2021-2022

For Immediate Release
July 6, 2021

CALSSD Statement on Final Budget Agreement for Fiscal Year 2021-2022

The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) congratulated the Governor and Legislature for reaching agreement on the 2021-22 Budget, and recognized elements of the budget that support suburban school districts’ work to meet the educational needs of all students. CALSSD also appreciates the compromise language in AB/SB 130 on independent study that provides an option for independent study in instances in which parents or guardians determine that in-person instruction would put a student’s health at risk.

The following statement is attributed to Dr. Sara Noguchi, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools, the lead district for CALSSD.

“We are encouraged that a number of CALSSD recommendations are included in the final package. The resolution of budget negotiations and the pay off of all deferrals gives districts fiscal certainty and allows us to begin  implementing plans for instruction and student support in advance of the upcoming fall semester.

“Following 15  months of stress and challenges to teaching and learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we appreciate the increase in education funding aimed at supporting our students’ academic, social and emotional recovery through a lens of equity and inclusion. We look forward to using the new resources allocated in this budget agreement, such as the increase to the LCFF base grant and the compound cost-of-living adjustment, to address challenges and inequities stemming from COVID-19 by expanding mental health services, and accelerating academic, social, and emotional learning.

“We also applaud the much-needed increase in funding for special education services and the expanded learning grants to all districts. We look forward to exploring the robust implementation of the groundbreaking expansion of Transitional Kindergarten. The investment in laying the foundation of early learning for all students will pay dividends in student success for a generation.

“Lastly, as was noted in a recent report from the California Education Lab, while the vast majority of suburban school districts serve a significant number of students who are eligible for free or reduced price meals, are in foster care, or are English learners, there is significant variation among and within districts. The increase in LCFF base funding in this budget is a positive step. However, because some suburban school districts serve a higher number of disadvantaged students than others, we acknowledge that the formula for expanding LCFF concentration funding included in the final budget agreement was disappointing to some districts. CALSSD will continue to advocate for the state to increase LCFF funding so that every district has the resources to fully meet the academic, social, and emotional learning  needs of all students.”

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CA Association of Suburban School Districts Urges Legislature and Governor to Agree on Budget that Provides Stability to Meet Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs

For Immediate Release
June 22, 2021

Contact: Hilary McLean
Hilary@ALZAmedia.com

CA Association of Suburban School Districts Urges Legislature and Governor to Agree on Budget that Provides Stability to Meet Students’ Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs

Sacramento — As the school year rocked by the global pandemic concludes, the California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) urges the Legislature and the Governor to act quickly to reach agreement on the state budget to give school districts certainty and clarity needed to implement programs that address learning loss and support students’ mental health and academic, social and emotional learning.

“After more than a year of navigating extraordinary challenges affecting teaching and learning, our districts are preparing for the return of in-person instruction,” said Sara Noguchi, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools, lead district for CALSSD. “We are eager to implement programs that meet the needs of our students who have suffered unfinished learning, incredible stress, and many other challenges throughout the pandemic.

“We call on the Governor and the Legislature to reach a budget agreement soon that reflects our recommendations to increase fiscal stability for all school districts and support suburban school districts’ efforts to address the needs of our diverse student populations.”

Suburban schools serve a diverse student population of 2.6 million students in California. While almost half of suburban districts serve a student body where more than 55% of students are included in at least one of the state’s unduplicated student subgroups, there is great variation among and within districts. Beyond the White Picket Fence: A Picture of Suburban Schools in California, a report recently released by the California Education Lab, found that across suburban districts in California, 52% of students are Latinx, 24% are White, 10% are Asian American, 5% are Black or African American, 4% are multi-racial and 3% are Pacific islander or Filipino.

In a letter to the Governor and Legislative leaders, CALSSD shared recommendations on seven critical issues on which there are differences between the May Revision and the Legislature’s budget as follows:

  • Deferrals. CALSSD supports the legislative proposal to pay down all of the K-12 deferrals in 2022-23. We agree with the Legislative Analyst’s comments that paying down deferrals in their entirety makes fiscal sense. Paying off the deferrals would improve district’s cashflow and reduce the need for internal or external borrowing. We recognize that some early action on deferral paydown is necessary to avoid potential penalties on districts that have entered arrangements for borrowing.

  • Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Cost of Living Adjustments & Grant Increases. CALSSD appreciates the May Revision and Legislature’s adoption of the 4.05% COLA and the 1% increase to the Base Grant. The LCFF base grant was not established at a level sufficient for school districts to meet costs and expense for high quality core program for all students. School districts face rising costs for pension contributions, health care premiums, utilities, transportation, technology, special education services in addition to COVID-19 related expenses. The base grant increase will help districts meet these essential costs and services.

  • K-12 Pension Contributions. CALSSD supports the legislative budget proposal to provide state funding to mitigate the steep increases in employer rates. The rising costs in pension contributions is one of a number of operational increases districts face and for which base funding is not sufficient. As the Legislative Analyst has noted, use of one-time funding would “smooth out the large increase in pension costs in 2022-23 and/or reduce costs over a longer period. Lower costs would ease local budget pressure and help districts sustain programs over time.”

  • Special Education Funding. CALSSD appreciates and supports the May Revision and the legislature’s proposal for the 4.5% COLA for special education and the legislature’s proposal to increase the base grant. Special education funding rates vary widely based upon a school district’s special education expenditures from the 1990s. This disparity is not primarily the result of differences in populations, but rather is the result of a system in which many areas with historically lower per-pupil rate receive lower funding, despite begin held to the same state and federal responsibilities for students with disabilities. CALSSD also supports funding for preschool-age children with disabilities. Districts have the responsibility to serve these children and there has been an increase in the numbers of young children who need these services.

    CALSSD also strongly supports the legislature’s proposal for using federal funding for special education learning recovery grants. These grants will support local educational agencies in conducting activities to prevent and intervene early in conflicts, conduct voluntary alternative dispute resolution, and provide services to pupils with disabilities relating to impacts to learning associated with COVID-19 school disruptions.

  • Career Technical Education Incentive Grant. CALSSD supports the legislature’s proposal to increase ongoing funding for this grant program by $150 million a year. Currently, there are almost twice as many high-quality grant applications than there are funds to allocate.  The augmentation provided in the legislative version of the budget is important to ensure that more career technical education grants are funded and existing CTE programs can grow as they come up for grant renewal.

  • Expanded Learning Time Grants. CALSSD supports the legislative proposal to allocate the Expanded Learning Time funds to all districts based on the counts of unduplicated pupils. As noted above, suburban districts are diverse. Virtually all receive supplemental grants and most serve a significant proportion of students from low-income families, English learners, or youth in foster care – the LCFF unduplicated pupil groups. These students have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, whether or not they attend a school in a district that received concentration grant funding. The allocation of expanded learning time funds to all districts based on unduplicated pupil counts is especially important at the present time; Federal COVID-19 relief funds have in large measure been distributed using the federal Title 1 formula, which is based on historical not current data, thus a number of suburban schools are receiving a smaller share of these funds designed to address the impact of COVID-19.

  • Independent Study Trailer Bill Language. CALSSD supports strengthening the independent study statutes to ensure that this educational option has the equivalent rigor, quality, and support as in-person programs so that all participating students can achieve academic success while continuing to have the flexibility to learn remotely. The trailer bill language proposed in the May Revise does not accomplish this goal.  Given the diversity of students and their experiences during the pandemic, schools are engaging parents and students as they plan instructional programs for the 2021-22 school year. Districts offered in-person instruction in 2020 and the default going forward is in-person, but there continue to be families who want a virtual learning option. Many schools and districts are expanding independent study options to meet capacity needs for these students. We have had informal estimates of up to 20% of families in some districts that may chose virtual learning in summer 2021 and/or the 2021-22 school year.

This recently published PACE Commentary provides additional information on the changing demographics of suburban districts and how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities that schools are taking steps to address. The article is authored by CALSSD members James Hammond, superintendent of Ontario-Montclair School District in San Bernardino County, and Sara Noguchi, in collaboration with Sherrie Reed, executive director of the California Education Lab at the University of California, Davis.

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K-12 Budget Recommendations for 2021-22

June 8, 2021

The Hon. Gavin Newsom
Governor, State of California
State Capitol, First Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Hon. Toni Atkins
Senate President pro Tempore
State California, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Hon. Anthony Rendon
Speaker of the Assembly
State Capitol, Room 219
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Nancy Skinner
Chair, Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee
State Capitol, Room 5019
Sacramento, CA 95814

The Honorable Phil Ting
Chair Assembly Budget Committee
State Capitol, Room 6026
Sacramento, CA 95814

Re: 2021-22 K-12 Budget Recommendations

Dear Governor Newsom, Senate pro Tem Atkins, Assembly Speaker Rendon, Senator Skinner and Assemblymember Ting:

Thank you for your leadership in crafting a budget to revitalize California public schools as we plan for a new school year. The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) appreciates the deliberation and approach in both the May Revision and the Legislature’s budget plan to address challenges and inequities of COVID-19, accelerate student learning and support social emotional learning. As you reach a final budget agreement, here are our recommendations on seven critical issues on which there are differences between the May Revision and the Legislature’s budget.

Diversity of California Suburban Schools and How Districts are Addressing Inequity
Suburban schools serve a diverse student population of 2.6 million students in California . While almost half of suburban districts serve a student body where more than 55% of students are included in at least one of the state’s unduplicated student subgroups, there is great variation among and within districts. In a new PACE Commentary, two CALSSD superintendents reflect on the changing demographics of suburban districts and how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed inequities that schools are taking steps to address. Read their commentary here.

Deferrals. CALSSD supports the legislative proposal to pay down all of the K-12 deferrals in 2022-23. We agree with the Legislative Analyst’s comments that paying down deferrals in their entirety makes fiscal sense. Paying off the deferrals would improve district’s cashflow and reduce the need for internal or external borrowing. We recognize that some early action on deferral paydown is necessary to avoid potential penalties on districts that have entered arrangements for borrowing.

Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Cost of Living Adjustments & Grant Increases
CALSSD appreciates the May Revision and Legislature’s adoption of the 4.05% COLA and the 1% increase to the Base Grant. The LCFF base grant was not established at a level sufficient for school districts to meet costs and expense for high quality core program for all students. School districts face rising costs for pension contributions, health care premiums, utilities, transportation, technology, special education services in addition to COVID-19 related expenses. The base grant increase will help districts meet these essential costs and services.

K-12 Pension Contributions. CALSSD supports the legislative budget proposal to provide state funding to mitigate the steep increases in employer rates. The rising costs in pension contributions is one of a number of operational increases districts face and for which base funding is not sufficient. As the Legislative Analyst has noted, use of one-time funding would “smooth out the large increase in pension costs in 2022-23 and/or reduce costs over a longer period. Lower costs would ease local budget pressure and help districts sustain programs over time.”

Special Education Funding. CALSSD appreciates and supports the May Revision and the legislature’s proposal for the 4.5% COLA for special education and the legislature’s proposal to increase the base grant. Special education funding rates vary widely based upon a school district’s special education expenditures from the 1990s. This disparity is not primarily the result of differences in populations, but rather is the result of a system in which many areas with historically lower per-pupil rate receive lower funding, despite begin held to the same state and federal responsibilities for students with disabilities. CALSSD also supports funding for preschool-age children with disabilities. Districts have the responsibility to serve these children and there has been an increase in the numbers of young children who need these services.

CALSSD also strongly supports the legislature’s proposal for using federal funding for special education learning recovery grants. These grants will support local educational agencies in conducting activities to prevent and intervene early in conflicts, conduct voluntary alternative dispute resolution, and provide services to pupils with disabilities relating to impacts to learning associated with COVID-19 school disruptions.

Career Technical Education Incentive Grant. CALSSD supports the legislature’s proposal to increase ongoing funding for this grant program by $150 million a year. Currently, there are almost twice as many high-quality grant applications than there are funds to allocate. The augmentation provided in the legislative version of the budget is important to ensure that more
career technical education grants are funded and existing CTE programs can grow as they come up for grant renewal.

Expanded Learning Time Grants. CALSSD supports the legislative proposal to allocate the Expanded Learning Time funds to all districts based on the counts of unduplicated pupils. As noted above, suburban districts are diverse. Virtually all receive supplemental grants and most serve a significant proportion of students from low income families, English learners, or youth in foster care – the LCFF unduplicated pupil groups. These students have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, whether or not they attend a school in a district that received concentration grant funding. The allocation of expanded learning time funds to all districts based on unduplicated pupil counts is especially important at the present time; Federal COVID-19 relief funds have in large measure been distributed using the federal Title 1 formula, which is based on historical not current data, thus a number of suburban schools are receiving a smaller share of these funds designed to address the impact of COVID-19.

Independent Study Trailer Bill Language. CALSSD supports strengthening the independent study statutes to ensure that this educational option has the equivalent rigor, quality, and support as in-person programs so that all participating students can achieve academic success while continuing to have the flexibility to learn remotely. The trailer bill language proposed in the May Revise does not accomplish this goal. Given the diversity of students and their experiences during the pandemic, schools are engaging parents and students as they plan instructional programs for the 2021-22 school year. Districts offered in-person instruction in 2020 and the default going forward is in-person, but there continue to be families who want a virtual learning option. Many schools and districts are expanding independent study options to meet capacity needs for these students. We have had informal estimates of up to 20% of families in some districts that may chose virtual learning in summer 2021 and/or the 2021-22 school year.

Thank you for the opportunity to share the recommendations of suburban district leaders. If we can be of further assistance, please contact us via e-mail at andrea@ballfrostgroup.com and jeff@ballfrostgroup.com.

Sincerely,


Andrea Ball
Legislative Advocate
California Association of Suburban School Districts


Jeffrey Frost
Legislative Advocate
California Association of Suburban School Districts


[1] A recent report from the California Education Lab highlights the diversity of students across suburban districts in California: 52% of students are Latinx, 24% are White, 10% are Asian American, 5% are Black or African American, 4% are multi-racial and 3% are Pacific islander or Filipino.

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Suburban School Districts Applaud Governor Newsom’s Proposal to Make Systemic Investments in Public Education

For Immediate Release
May 14, 2021

Suburban School Districts Applaud Governor Newsom’s Proposal to Make

Systemic Investments in Public Education

Sacramento – The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) appreciates  Governor Newsom’s responsiveness to CALSSD’s budget and policy priorities. The targeted investments proposed in the May Budget Revision to accelerate learning and support students’ mental health and wellness will advance the work of suburban school districts to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students as we look to start a new fiscal and school year.

The Governor’s proposed increase to the LCFF Base Grant, combined with an increase in the Cost-of-Living Adjustment to LCFF, special education, and other categorical programs outside of LCFF, and his plan to pay down long-term pension liabilities of STRS and PERS, are systemic improvements that will provide much-needed stability to school funding in our communities.  

“Suburban schools are looking to the future and re-envisioning the education system to build more equitable learning environments,” said Sara Noguchi, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools, lead district for CALSSD. “Following an unprecedented year of distance and hybrid learning, suburban school district leaders and education systems are planning programs for summer learning and school year 2021-22 that will address learning loss and support the mental health needs of our students, as well as their successful reintegration into the in-person learning environment. The investments proposed by Governor Newsom will give schools much-needed resources to accelerate learning and support students’ social and emotional health.”

Suburban schools serve a diverse student population of 2.6 million students in California. The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) is a statewide coalition of districts that advocates for policies and funding to improve education for students in suburban schools.

For more information, contact Hilary McLean at Hilary@ALZAmedia.com.  

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California Association of Suburban School Districts Applauds New Investments in Education Proposed by Governor Newsom

For Immediate Release
May 12, 2021

California Association of Suburban School Districts Applauds New Investments in Education Proposed by Governor Newsom

On behalf of the California Association of Suburban School District (CALSSD), Dr. Sara Noguchi, Superintendent of Modesto City Schools, lead district for CALSSD, issued the following statement in response to the education budget proposal announced by Governor Newsom:

“Suburban school district leaders are focused on accelerating learning and addressing social-emotional needs with our students as we emerge from the effects of the pandemic over the past year. The new investments in public education proposed today by Governor Newsom will give schools powerful leverage and resources to expand educational opportunities for students who need additional time and support over the summer, as well as with before and after school programs, as they reintegrate into the in-person learning environment.

“The pandemic and social justice issues of the last year exacerbated many stresses our students face. The proposed investments in wellness and mental health are critically needed to support our student’s social and emotional health as well as their academic progress.

“We applaud the Governor’s proposal to expand Transitional Kindergarten so all students can benefit from a high-quality educational foundation. By coupling this early learning investment with a $500 college savings account for every low-income child entering public school, we will be sending an important message to parents and students alike that we are committed to their future success and college-to-career endeavors.

“We also appreciate the Governor’s proposal to invest in the next generation of teachers and counselors, and we look forward to enhancing our efforts to recruit and provide professional development for educators who reflect the diversity of our community.

“As the final budget agreement is negotiated between the Governor and the Legislature, we urge all policymakers to commit to these investments in students for the long term. While each dollar spent on public education is vital, one-time only funding will not allow school districts to make systemic and equitable changes that accelerate learning and help all students meet their college and career goals. Sustainable long-term investments in school districts are needed to help students thrive and grow into productive adults so they can  do their part to contribute to positive transformation in communities throughout the state.”

The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) is a statewide coalition of districts that advocates for policies and funding to improve education for students in suburban schools.

For more information, contact Andrea Ball at andrea@ballfrostgroup.com

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