Hopes for return to in-person instruction and extracurricular opportunities grow as COVID case rates continue to remain low

Summer 2021

This summer looks to be one of the most exciting in recent memory as renewed optimism for a more familiar start to the upcoming school year takes hold. After what is arguably the most challenging school leadership year ever, fresh hopes and dreams of students returning to in-person instruction and extracurricular opportunities abound as in-person graduations resumed the past few weeks.

As of this update, COVID case rates continue to remain low, weekly Zoom calls have slowed, and the California Department of Public Health has updated its K-12 guidance to align with the CDC on distancing recommendations of three feet between students while in classrooms. After CalOSHA walked back its ill timed masking-police language, California is now set to reopen on June 15. When this occurs, the arduous 15-month-long ordeal of health restrictions, mandates, bans and color-coded tiers will finally end. CalOHSA is set to update its workplace guidance on June 28.

Before all the good news of reopening was in the air, ACSA’s annual Legislative Action Day April 12-13, 2021 was a huge success. The event saw more member participation (600+) and more session dialogue with Assembly members than ever before. The event was held virtually and included increased conference-like opportunities for all ACSA members with the flexible timing as well as the traditional region team meetings with representatives on Tuesday.

As life returns to non-pandemic status, the Governor’s May Revise is in the air. Some of the key legislative highlights from ACSA’s Governmental Relations & Policy team include:

  • Over $15B growth in Prop 98 over January
  • Governor Newsom Recall efforts equate to “something for everyone” in the revise   
  • 5% COLA positive (partially to SpEd, Categoricals) but ACSA pushing to apply to all 
  • Increase in categoricals (narrow interventions, no district discretion)
  • Rebenching Prop 98 is positive but issues around facilities and lower staffing ratios will increase
  • ACSA believes it doesn’t go far enough with a pending ADA fiscal cliff
    • Leaves $2B in deferrals, Doesn’t pay down more STRS/PERS
    • Difficult fiscal positions with mostly one-time money
  • Some issues likely still to be addressed by Legislature include:
    • Deferrals require one-time money to pay off, but it not occur because it also  provides political deliverables for the Governor
    • GANN Limit (Expenditure limit that state hits with huge influx of revenue)
        • Half has to be returned to taxpayers and half to education
        • We will likely see money next year
    • Concentration Grant expansion money bypasses supplemental-grant-only districts
        • $2B coming in PPE likely vulnerable as districts say there are better uses – like buying down the deferral

In other ACSA Legislative News, Distance Learning and Independent Study conversation continues without resolution as of this update. With the May Revision also comes the expiration of current distance learning statute and return to in-person. Proposed additions to Independent Study include tiered reengagement, weekly synchronous instruction, and daily live interaction and would apply to all students being served presently as well in current programs (Home Hospital, IS). Proposed language hurdles include: too much discretion for LEA’s, the Assembly still feels like all families should have virtual options, and it also impacts short-term Independent Study students and Charters as well.

The AB 104 Retention bill is with the Assembly Education Committee with significant adjustments, which include: no longer requirement for interim retention policy, removes requirement that LEA’s proactively informs families about changes to policy, narrows who is eligible for who moves forward to consultation (12th graders no longer) and students would need to have D’s, F’s or NP. The adjustments would also require families to get consultation with principal and teacher to talk about interventions available and research around retention and most importantly, the decision would still lie with school only requiring consultation.

The state budget also includes language that would allow candidates to earn a teaching credential without taking two tests currently required. If approved, candidates wouldn’t have to take the CBEST or CSET if they earned a B or better in qualifying coursework or tests that apply toward requirements for a degree.

Finally, I would like to offer a “thank you” to ACSA’s outgoing state VPLA, Barbara Martinez. Her service over the past two years was undoubtedly the most challenging and highest level of legislative action of any VPLA in ACSA’s long history. Barbara’s passion for the position and  enthusiasm for advocacy was inspirational during the numerous hurdles of 2020.

Even with summer coming and the pandemic ending, ACSA state, region, and charter Legislative Action teams remain active supporting educational resources,  finances, and increasing needs of students and school administrators. Please contact us if we can support you in any way. Wishing you a restful and relaxing summer vacation because we have all absolutely earned it.

Jason M. Hodgson, Ed.D.
VP Legislative Action, ACSA Region XI