CSBA-ACSA’s proposal for COVID attendance relief adopted in May Revise
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (May 13, 2022) — “We were heartened to see the Governor listened to our call and included COVID ADA relief in the May Revise as these funds will provide critical support to schools grappling with declining enrollment and lower attendance as they recover from the pandemic. The budget proposal also contains welcomed assistance in areas where CSBA concentrated advocacy efforts, such as increasing base funding for the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and allocating additional resources for universal school meals,” said California School Boards Association President Dr. Susan Heredia.
“Yet, the May Revise fails to apply a record $97.5 billion surplus to fully address rising pension costs, higher expenses related to inflation and the pandemic, and the fact that many of the one-time funds currently propping up schools will expire in the next year. CSBA will continue to advocate for a higher level of base school funding that truly meets the moment as well as dedicated funding in priority areas like home-to-school transportation and facilities funding needed to implement the state’s new transitional kindergarten grade level.”
The Governor’s May Revision includes a proposal that CSBA developed with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) for COVID average daily attendance (ADA) relief. The plan allows local educational agencies to include attendance data from 2019–20 — the last pre-pandemic year — when calculating the three-year average that determines the bulk of state school funding. Additionally, he provides a welcomed $612 million for universal school meals and almost $1 billion for various staff recruitment, retention and professional development initiatives.
An additional $2.1 billion for base LCFF funding beyond what is required in statute is greatly appreciated, but still doesn’t keep pace with actual inflation which is at more than 8 percent. While the 6.56 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be generous in most years, it is effectively a cut and insufficient at a time when inflation hovers above 8 percent generally, and higher for many of the essential items that schools purchase. This problem is compounded when one considers that the budget fails to extend pension relief for local educational agencies. Employer pension costs are increasing and there is no proposal to continue the assistance provided to schools over the past two years. The burden pension costs place on schools and the resources they divert from the classroom represent a state-created crisis that demands a state-funded, non-Proposition 98 solution.
The Senate and Assembly budget proposals, combined with the provisions of the May Revise, do at least recognize a need for higher base LCFF funding and open the door for funding increases as the budget process continues.
Finally, while the Governor’s May Revision recognizes that schools are struggling with declining enrollment and attendance and makes significant investments in a number of key areas, it misses an opportunity to provide funding for home-to-school transportation, a high-leverage strategy to boost attendance and increase access to instruction, programs and services that improve student outcomes. As we recover from the pandemic, it’s more critical than ever that students attend schools on-time, every day. Yet, because of severe underfunding for home-to-school transportation programs, California ranks last nationally in home-to-school transportation with just 10 percent of students taking a bus to school. CSBA-sponsored Assembly Bill 2933 is now the best hope of remedying this problem. AB 2933 provides the funding and flexibility local districts need to expand school busing service without taking from other programs in desperate need of resources.
CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.