California Association of Suburban School Districts joins in coalition commenting on latest legislative proposal for In-Person Instruction and Student Learning Grants

For Immediate Release
February 21, 2021

California Association of Suburban School Districts joins in coalition commenting on latest legislative proposal for In-Person Instruction and Student Learning Grants

Sacramento – The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD), a statewide coalition of districts that represents districts with more than 500,000 students in TK-12 suburban schools, joined other education associations, school districts and county offices of education to send Legislative leaders comments on SB/AB 86, the latest legislative proposal on school reopening for in-person instruction and addressing learning loss experienced by students during distance learning.

In a coalition letter sent to Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and members of the California Legislature, education system leaders recognized the continued efforts to bring more students back to school campuses for in-person instruction and to support student learning and urged changes to the legislation so that it does not create additional barriers to reopening schools.

In additional comments, Modesto City Schools Superintendent Sara Noguchi, Ed.D., and lead district for CALSSD said:

“We appreciate the continued efforts by policymakers and the momentum to get more students back for in-person instruction. We’re joining education colleagues in sending this letter to ensure that should the bill advance, it doesn’t create hurdles to local efforts to reopen schools and accelerate student learning.”

Read the letter here.

The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) advocates for policies and funding to improve education and opportunities for students in suburban schools, member districts include:

Carlsbad Unified School District * Compton Unified School District * El Dorado Union High School District * Elk Grove Unified School District *Folsom Cordova Unified School District * Fremont Union High School District * Glendale Unified School District * Irvine Unified School District * Laguna Beach Unified School District * Las Virgenes Unified School District * Madera Unified School District * Modesto City Schools * Oceanside Unified School District * Ontario-Montclair School District * Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District * Poway Unified School District * Rocklin Unified School District * Roseville City School District Rowland Unified School District * San Juan Unified School District * Santa Barbara Unified School District * Santa Clara Unified School District * Tustin Unified School District * Vista Unified School District

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

# # #

 

Download this statement as a PDF

California Association of Suburban School Districts Letter on School Reopening & Accelerating Student Learning

The Honorable 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, CA 95814

Re: Reopening Schools for In-Person Instruction and Accelerating Learning

Dear Governor Newsom, Senate pro Tem Atkins and Assembly Speaker Rendon:

The California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments to advance reopening of schools for in-person instruction and to support student learning acceleration. CALSSD represents districts across the state with a diverse student population of more than half a million TK-12 students. Since the beginning of the pandemic and over the course of the last eleven months, suburban schools have worked ceaselessly on COVID-19 response and recovery to provide instruction and learning, nutrition services and child care that is vital to students, families, staff, and our communities. We urge you to act soon to allocate funds to districts to support ongoing opening plans and so that educators, students, and families can plan for the remainder of this school year, summer 2021 and the 2021-22 school year.

The impact of the pandemic and the shift to remote learning has affected communities across the state. Student learning, social-emotional and mental well-being have been extremely impacted. This is especially the case in in those communities hit disproportionately by COVID-19 — communities of color, and low-income communities. This makes the reopening conversation more time sensitive than ever before and why statewide guidance, standards and action are critical.

Many suburban school districts have been providing small group support, some were able to open schools under the prior elementary waiver process and/or because their county moved into a less-severe Tier. The recent slowing in COVID-19 rates provides more opportunities for in-person programs to open soon. School system leaders are eager to open for in-person instruction and to do so with safety and mitigation procedures in place. As more schools plan to open and expand in-person instruction and to think about the coming summer and fall, we provide the following recommendations:

Clear standards and requirements for in-person instruction based on evidence and experience.

  • Provide clear, consistent guidelines, based on evidence and the experience of those schools that have been providing in-person instruction for safety mitigation and when schools reopen.
  • The January 14, 2021 guidance provides that elementary schools can reopen when COVID-19 adjusted case rates are 25 per 100,000 with comprehensive safety and mitigation practices and equipment in place. Schools in California that have been open for in-person instruction without causing outbreaks demonstrate soundness of this approach.
  • Establish a statewide standard by which schools will reopen so that it does not have to be determined in each school district. The current system creates a patchwork of conditions under which each district must assess public health conditions and craft individual reopening plans. With more than 1000 school districts in the state, this approach lacks consistency and equity to our students.
  • Clarify that physical distancing for students may be less than 6 feet, as was provided under earlier guidance. Again, schools that have been open under the earlier state guidance which used “6 feet as practicable” for student distance, have shown it can work. We agree that adults should continue at the 6 feet physical distance.

Expedite Access but Don’t Predicate Reopening on Vaccines

  • We appreciate leadership of the state in advocating for additional supplies and attempts to improve vaccine distribution and administration systems, but vaccinations should not be a requirement for school opening.
  • The changes in vaccine priorities and lack of transparent information on how and when those working in education will be vaccinated has created confusion. While some health agencies have started to vaccinate educators, it has been left to local agencies to set priorities and lack of consistent information has caused frustration. School system leaders must be able to communicate with confidence to their communities the plans and access for vaccines.
  • We support access for educators and urge the state to do all it can to increase supply, but it should not be a condition for opening.

COVID-19 Testing Requirements Based on Science and in Conjunction with Local Health Agencies

  • The testing frequencies outlined in the latest guidance from CDPH, would require weekly on-site testing of staff and students, much greater frequency, and numbers than in earlier guidance. The logistics — demands on space, facilities, staff, and funds are beyond the proposed amount of funding in the Governor’s proposal. Many districts would not have capacity to sustain this high frequency.
  • We urge the state to revise these requirements.

Early Action on Expanded and Accelerated Learning Funds

School system leaders are planning the remainder of this school year, for summer 2021 and the next school year at the same time they are working on reopening. We urge state leaders to act on the allocation of funds to local educational agencies so that expanded academic, social emotional and other support services and programs can be crafted.

  • Funding should be allocated to all districts based on Local Control Funding Formula and consideration should be given to increasing the LCFF base funding levels given the need for expenditures on items where the impacts are on all students and staff and are unrelated to supplemental and concentration grant factors.
  • Per the recommendation by the Legislative Analyst Office, schools should have multiple years to expend these funds.
  • Schools are looking at a variety of approaches, engaging staff, students, and families in these efforts. Some of the key features being considered:
    • Small cohorts and ratios of teacher to students; co-teaching models
    • Incorporate student voices in planning programs and services
    • Rethink traditional summer school: Focus on social-emotional learning and academic learning; offer non-traditional experiences such as outdoor camps
    • Professional learning opportunities for teachers
    • Stipends for teachers and staff

Thank you again for your leadership on these critically important issues. 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
Hon. Nancy Skinner, Chair Senate Budget Committee
Hon. Jim Nielsen, Vice Chair Senate Budget Committee
Hon. Connie Leyva, Chair Senate Education Committee
Hon. Scott Wilk, Vice Chair Senate Education Committee
Hon. John Laird, Chair, Senate Budget Subcommittee #1
Hon. Phil Ting, Chair Assembly Budget Committee
Hon. Vince Fong, Vice Chair, Assembly Budget Committee
Hon. Patrick O’Donnell, Chair Assembly Education Committee
Hon. Kevin Kiley, Vice Chair Assembly Education Committee
Hon. Kevin McCarty, Chair Assembly Budget Subcommittee #2
Ana Matosantos, Cabinet Secretary, Office of the Governor
Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary, Office of the Governor
Jim DeBoo, Executive Secretary, Office of the Governor
Keely Bosler, Director, California Department of Finance
Brooks Allen, Executive Director State Board of Education
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary California Health and Human Services Agency
Dr. Naomi Bardach, Safe Schools for All Team, California Health & Human Services Agency
Paula Villescaz, Assistant Secretary, California Health & Human Services Agency
Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, State Public Health Officer, California Department of Public Health
Dr. Erica Pan, California Department of Public Health

Download this letter as a PDF

California Suburban School Districts React to Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2021

 

California Suburban School Districts React to Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget

Sacramento – On behalf of the California Association of Suburban School Districts (CALSSD), the following school district leaders offered reaction to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget released today.

“The Governor’s school reopening grant plan is well-intentioned but poses significant implementation challenges. We look forward to examining the details of the Governor’s proposed budget and learning more about how the vaccination and school reopening plans are intended to be implemented, given that the costs of taking on new health-related responsibilities will be extraordinarily high. The requirement for new collective bargaining agreements in particular makes participation in this grant program a challenge. Districts and labor partners spent significant time and effort reaching agreements earlier this year. The grant program includes new criteria, higher COVID-19 rates and real increases in COVID-19 testing. We look forward to the state accelerating vaccinations for those working in our schools in order to return to in-person learning as quickly as possible while protecting the health of our students, staff, and communities.”

Dr. Sara Noguchi, Ed.D., Superintendent Modesto City Schools

 

“We appreciate the Governor’s focus on providing additional funding for mental health services, summer school and targeted learning loss efforts. Meeting the needs of students that have suffered learning loss as a result of school closures and the dramatic reduction to in-person learning is a top priority at each district in the California Association of Suburban School Districts.

“Additionally, we are glad that the Governor proposed $250 million to support teacher and staff recruitment. Even before the COVID crisis, California was facing a serious teacher and staff shortage. Concerns about COVID-19 risks, the stresses of shifting to distance learning, and the aging of our teacher population are expected to result in a huge bubble of teacher retirements. Ensuring that our schools are staffed with talented educators is fundamental to our mission of preparing all students for successful futures.”

Ron Carruth, Superintendent El Dorado Union High School District

 

“We applaud Governor Newsom for proposing $4.6 billion for extended learning time and additional interventions to address learning loss and accelerate learning for students who have fallen behind. We encourage the Governor and the Legislature to approve flexible use of these funds so districts can tailor the interventions most effectively to address local priorities.

“We are also happy to see the Governor’s proposal to provide additional funding for student mental health and especially the funding to schools to promote partnerships and augment grants between school and community mental health services are an important investment in our students’ overall well-being and social and emotional growth and development. This increased investment at a time that many of our students are facing extraordinary stress and anxiety will be money well spent.”

James Hammond, the Superintendent of Ontario-Montclair School District

 

“Given the impact of the pandemic on Californian’s health and to our economy, we are relieved that state revenues are in better shape than expected when the current budget was enacted and pleased to see the Governor proposed $85.8 billion to fund public education. However, schools are facing extraordinary challenges in meeting student and community needs: addressing student learning loss, revamping school facilities and practices to allow for the safe return to in-person instruction, and new public health responsibilities related to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

Meeting the needs of students that have suffered learning loss as a result of school closures and the shift to distance learning is a top priority at each district in the California Association of Suburban School Districts.”

Dr. Armina Gharpetian, Board President, Glendale Unified School District

 

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.

Member districts include:

Carlsbad Unified School District * El Dorado Union High School District * Elk Grove Unified School District * Folsom Cordova Unified School District * Fremont Union High School District * Glendale Unified School * District Irvine Unified School District * Laguna Beach Unified School District * Las Virgenes Unified School * District Madera Unified School District * Modesto City Schools * Oceanside Unified School District * Ontario-Montclair School District * Palo Alto Unified School District * Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District * Poway Unified School District * Rocklin Unified School District * Roseville City School District * Rowland Unified School District * San Juan Unified School District * Santa Barbara Unified School District * Santa Clara Unified School District * Tustin Unified School District * Vista Unified School District

Modesto City Schools, Dr. Sara Noguchi, EdD Superintendent, serves as the Lead District for CALSSD

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

Download this statement as a PDF

Coalition Support of Early Action to Eliminate K-14 Deferrals

December 23, 2020

The Honorable Toni G. Atkins
Senate President pro Tempore
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814

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

Re: Early Action to Eliminate K-14 Deferrals

Dear Pro Tempore Atkins and Speaker Rendon:

The undersigned K-14 education organizations support early action to eliminate the $12.5 billion in current year deferrals and provide $900 million, 2.31 percent, in a statutory cost-of-living adjustment.

The Budget Act of 2020 included $1.9 billion of Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) apportionment deferrals in 2019-20, growing to $11 billion LCFF apportionment deferrals in 2020-21. These deferrals allowed LCFF funding to remain at 2019-20 levels in both fiscal years, but suspended the statutory LCFF cost-of-living adjustment in 2020-21. While the budget did not impose cuts, the large payment deferrals require districts to rely heavily on reserves and/or short-term borrowing and the costs associated to address cash flow issues. These challenges and additional borrowing costs could be mitigated with the elimination of the current year deferrals.

While the most recent budget news from the Legislative Analyst’s Office 2021-22 Fiscal Outlook and recent cash flow reports from the Department of Finance are encouraging, it is unclear whether the economic performance is sustainable for the medium or long term. The higher than projected revenue numbers are largely due to the resilience of the stock market and the strong earnings for California’s high net worth residents — a group that provides about a third of all the state’s tax revenue. High unemployment in California — among the nation’s highest at 8.2 percent — has been balanced by robust revenue from personal income taxes and capital gains, which increased by 22 percent or $11 billion in Quarter 1 and the first portion of Q2. A sharp drop in the stock market could quickly cloud the unexpectedly sunny forecast.

Eliminating the deferrals will improve cash flow for schools and community colleges, thereby reducing the need for internal or external borrowing while also removing future pressure on Proposition 98 funding. Further, it allows the legislature more options to address economic down turns by replenishing the tools in its tool kit (such as deferrals) as this COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

For these reasons, on behalf of our students, schools, and community colleges, we urge the legislature to take early action to eliminate current year deferrals and provide a statutory cost-of-living adjustment.

Sincerely,

Carol Kocivar Legislative Advocate California State PTA
Pamela E. Gibbs, J.D. Executive Director, Governmental Relations Los Angeles County Office of Education
Michael Hulsizer Chief Deputy for Governmental Affairs Kern County Superintendent of Schools
Jeffrey A. Vaca Chief Governmental Relations Officer Office of the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools
Andrea Ball Legislative Advocate Orange County Department of Education
Amanda M. Dickey, Esq. Director III – Government Relations Santa Clara County Office of Education
Caitlin Jung Legislative Counsel School Employers Association of California
Tim Taylor Executive Director Small School Districts’ Association

cc: The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Kimberly Rodriguez, Office of Senator Toni Atkins
Megan Baier, Office of Senator Toni Atkins
Misty Fuesahrens, Office of Assembly Member Rendon
Monica Henestroza, Office of Assembly Member Rendon
Joe Steppenshaw, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
Elisa Wynne, Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee
Christian Griffith, Assembly Budget Committee
Erin Gabel, Assembly Budget Committee
Keely Bosler, Department of Finance
Jeff Bell, Department of Finance
Jessica Holmes, Department of Finance

Download this letter as a PDF

Significant Concerns with Legislative Proposal on Overpayment Recovery

November 24, 2020

Mr. Harry M. Keiley Board Chair, Teachers’ Retirement Board California State Teachers’ Retirement System Submitted via email to: Board@CalSTRS.com

Re: Significant Concerns with Legislative Proposal on Overpayment Recovery (Agenda Item for Regular Meeting, December 9, 2020)

Dear Board Chair Keiley,

On behalf of the undersigned statewide educational organizations and local educational agencies (LEAs), we write to express significant concerns with a legislative proposal being considered by the Teachers’ Retirement Board on December 9, 2020. We urge the Board to not sponsor this proposed legislation until CalSTRS can establish, in partnership with stakeholders, a more thorough investigation of the underlying causes behind reporting errors and identify steps CalSTRS can take to address those issues.

We appreciate the proposal’s intention to ameliorate the impact of reporting errors that affect retired members who experience an overpayment recovery because their benefit amount has decreased. The underlying cause of those overpayments, however, remains the inaccurate reporting of creditable compensation. Nearly half of all LEAs over a five-year period would be subject to overpayment recovery under this proposal, according to an estimate by CalSTRS. This error rate highlights a systemic problem. It is a problem that LEAs aggressively wish to address, as we have expressed throughout the stakeholder engagement process on this measure. As currently written, this proposal does nothing to improve reporting accuracy.

Before introducing a bill that creates major new cost pressures on LEAs—during an economic recession and pandemic—CalSTRS needs to engage in a holistic conversation about how to provide clearer creditable compensation guidance to employers and members. Specifically:

1. CalSTRS must produce a point-in-time definitive interpretation of relevant statutes and regulations relating to the treatment of compensation.

2. When an LEA requests a statement from CalSTRS to interpret and apply creditable compensation laws to the LEA’s represented set of facts, they need consistent and timely answers – answers that remain true during subsequent audits.

3. When CalSTRS provides guidance to LEAs on how to report compensation, and CalSTRS later determines that advice to be erroneous, that error should be classified as a system error, not an employer error.

4. For purposes of audits and other corrective actions by CalSTRS, LEAs should be held responsible for the rules in effect at the time the compensation is reported, unless expressly superseded by state or federal law.

5. When CalSTRS changes its internal interpretation of creditable compensation laws, those changes must be preceded by prior notice to LEAs and applied only prospectively.

6. Employer audit reports should be posted on the CalSTRS website.

During CalSTRS’ feedback process for this proposal, stakeholders repeatedly raised the need for a more holistic review of the reporting and audits process. Notably, on October 29, 2020, the chief business officials from over a dozen county offices of education were asked to provide feedback on this policy proposal. They plainly articulated the fact that clear and consistent reporting guidance is not being provided by CalSTRS. Today, we underscore their message: Do not introduce legislation to increase LEA costs due to employer “errors” until CalSTRS can provide timely, consistent, and reliable guidance on reporting.

We urge the Board to table this proposed legislation until it can establish, in partnership with stakeholders, a more thorough investigation of the underlying causes behind reporting errors and the steps CalSTRS can take to address those issues. For any questions or conversation relating to this letter, please contact Derick Lennox, Legislative Advocate with the Association of California School Administrators: dlennox@acsa.org.

Sincerely,

Derick Lennox – Legislative Advocate, Association of California School Administrators
Carlos Machado – Legislative Advocate, California School Boards Association
Elizabeth Esquivel – Senior Director of Policy and Governance, California Association of School Business Officials
Karen Stapf-Walters – Executive Director, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association
Kyle Hyland – Legislative Advocate, Association of California Community College Administrators
Jeff Frost – Legislative Advocate, California Association of Suburban School Districts
John Roach – Executive Director, School Employers Association of California
Tim Taylor – Executive Director, Small School Districts’ Association
Scott Kuykendall – Superintendent of Schools, Stanislaus County
Jeff Vaca – Chief Governmental Relations Officer, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools
Michael Hulsizer – Chief Deputy, Governmental Affairs, Kern County Superintendent of Schools
Stan Mantooth – Superintendent of Schools, Ventura County
Dr. Barbara Nemko – Superintendent of Schools, Napa County
Deborah Bautista Zavala – Legislative Advocate, Los Angeles Unified School District
Dr. Paul Gothold – Superintendent of Schools, San Diego County
Dr. Mary Ann Dewan – Superintendent of Schools, Santa Clara County

cc: Members, Teachers’ Retirement Board
Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS
Diane Stanton, Acting Public Affairs Executive Officer, CalSTRS

Download this letter as a PDF

California’s State Broadband Action Plan: Education groups’ letter addresses access, affordability, and reliability to close the digital divide

October 28, 2020

Amy Tong
Chair of the California Broadband Council
Director of the CA Department of Technology
1325 J Street, Suite 1600
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chairperson Amy Tong and California Broadband Council members,

On behalf of a coalition of local educational agencies, transitional kindergarten–12 public school management associations, and nonprofit educational corporations, we respectfully submit our recommendations to ensure that our 6.1 million students, parents, educators and staff, and local educational agencies (LEAs) are reflected in the short-term and long-term infrastructure deployment in the new State Broadband Action Plan. We believe that our students have a right to a high-quality and equitable educational system from early education to higher education. The time is now to lay a foundation that removes barriers that have systematically denied access to connectivity to our most vulnerable populations.

On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom acted to protect the lives of students and educators from the health pandemic created by COVID-19 and directed LEAs to redesign education through distance learning to ensure students continued to receive instruction and nutritious meals in these uncertain times. It was in this moment, that COVID-19 revealed the reality that the digital divide persists, leaving behind over 1 million students who either lack access to the Internet or computer devices to participate in distance learning.

From that date on, LEAs and community partners have worked non-stop to procure technology-based devices, internet services such as WIFI connectivity and hotspots, and in some cases taken full responsibility of building their own high-speed networks to ensure students in rural communities and financially disadvantaged regions have coverage, as demonstrated by Colusa County Office of Education, Kings County Office of Education, Tulare County Office of Education, and Riverside County Office of Education. However, the issues of access, affordability, and reliability have not been addressed, which will require shared leadership of the public and private sectors to fund and build a connectivity infrastructure that eliminates the persistent inequities.

As the Council strives to meet its mandate to build a sound state broadband plan, our coalition offers the following recommendations to ensure our students are not forgotten:

Education Focused. While the Council has had extensive discussions with Internet Service Providers (ISP) and local governmental agencies hosted by California Forward and the California Transportation Agency, the Council has not had a dedicated session to discuss the direct impact the lack of a coordinated system has created for educators and the whole public education system from childcare services to TK-12 education to college and career programs.

Our Recommendation. As the public stewards entrusted to inspire and create the next generation of inventors, scientists and doctors, and visionaries for a better tomorrow, we believe that the Council would benefit greatly from a stand-alone listening session with the education community. We want to help craft a clear role and partnership that will ensure that we build a system using an equity lens to benefit every child.

1. Address the short-term needs to ensure learning occurs outside of the confines of school boundaries and provide necessary resources to secure technology-based instruments to meet immediate needs.

2. Address the long-term plan to expand and build out a robust infrastructure that leverages resources from both the public and private sectors and strengthens coordination to target rural and urban disadvantaged communities.

Access. When we transitioned to distance learning, LEAs went into overdrive to procure and distribute technology-based products and connectivity services, but recognized that in many instances we had to turn to the state for support to secure the resources to attain 700,000 laptops and 320,000 hotspots. We appreciate the hard-work and dedication of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and his staff for mobilizing during this crisis. However, we still have tens of thousands of students who continue to lack access to the internet.

Our Recommendation. Partner with LEAs to determine families’ connectivity needs and support the formation of Joint Power Authorities (JPAs) of public and private entities to establish their own networks through incentives and accelerated permitting processes for towers, antennas, and dishes to streamline the state’s review process. Other formations of LEA partnerships could also be supported so that larger LEAs could support smaller ones, with the added benefit that funding earmarked for education remains in education.

The state will need to determine the amount of wireless/cellular network space that is available to facilitate the build out of locally created networks and continue to consider schools as appropriate entities to coordinate the build out of new Long-Term Evolution (LTE) towers.

Affordability. ISPs tout low-cost programs, but fail to recognize that the income thresholds to access these services for families in extreme poverty (i.e. family of 4 = $28,700) in a high-cost state, leaving many families unable to access these services. In addition, the families who are able to access services through low-cost programs, the internet speeds are insufficient for downloading and uploading purposes. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), there is a correlation between household income and subscription to a broadband internet service, in which households with a median annual income less than $20,000 have a 53 percent adoption rate and for median annual household income greater than $80,000, the adoption rate is 86 percent.

Our Recommendation. We recommend adopting state standards for low-cost programs that include minimum speeds of 100 Mbps for terrestrial broadband, and prohibition on limiting through-put and align the income thresholds to state sponsored social services programs to ensure that every student who qualifies for additional funding through the Local Control Funding Formula is eligible for these services free of charge. We recommend that California advocates to the Federal Communications Commission to provide the enhanced support of Lifeline Program Broadband subsidy which would increase the subsidy from $9.25 to $34.25 per household. Enhanced support is only offered to Tribal communities.

Reliability. According to the LAO, 97 percent of California households have access to broadband Internet, “defined as having download speeds 6 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 1 Mbps”, which allows for some video calls but not sufficient when multiple children and parents/guardians are all simultaneously connected. The Governor’s Executive Order N-73-20 recognizes that 2 million Californians do not have access to broadband services at benchmark speeds of 100 Mbps for downloading.

Our Recommendation. We recommend establishing symmetrical upload and download speeds of the 100 Mbps per household.

We believe California is ready to lead with purpose and commitment to safeguard that every student, every educator, and school has the technology readiness, and access to overcome the COVID-19 challenges, and genuinely create a thriving opportunity for every student.

If you have any questions regarding this coalition letter, please do not hesitate to contact Sara Bachez, Chief Governmental Relations for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) at sbachez@casbo.org.

Thank you!

Download this letter as a PDF