CSBA Criticizes Signing of AB 438 as it will be Destabilizing for Schools
We are extremely disappointed that AB 438 (Reyes) was signed into law. Although portrayed as an equity measure, the bill will create greater instability for schools and the students they serve. By expanding the March 15th certificated layoff deadline to include classified employees, AB 438 doubles down on a bad practice that defies sound budgeting principles, results in more layoffs, and creates additional staff turnover for students in need of consistency. CSBA wants greater certainty in school budgeting and values the important role classified staff serve, however this measure forces the hands of school boards to do the exact opposite.
AB 438 blindfolds school boards by forcing them to commit to labor costs -- which account for 80 to 90 percent of total school budgets -- a full month before property tax collections are recorded, two months before the May Budget Revision, a full three months before the state budget is passed, potentially four months before an education budget trailer bill is adopted, and six months before actual enrollment information is received. As a result of this incomplete budget picture, the only way schools can reliably protect against expenditures that exceed revenues is to issue precautionary layoff notices, a practice that will now be extended beyond certificated staff to include classified employees. While AB 438 supporters claim this situation can be resolved with better budgeting, the truth is that schools lack the information to budget precisely by the March 15 deadline when they must decide to retain certificated employees and it will be no different for classified staff. Moving the layoff noticing deadline does not create better budgeting; consistent and reliable revenues create better budgeting.
The cardinal rule of budgeting is to know your income and your costs, but AB 438 locks in costs before solid revenue estimates are possible. If the March 15 noticing deadline contained in AB 438 made sense, the state and other local governments would adopt this approach. Instead, no other system besides California’s K-12 schools uses this backward, destabilizing practice.
CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.