Now that the majority of California school districts are selecting the mandate block grant, our concern is that they view mandates only as a funding decision. Many districts have concluded that "opting in" is all they have to do regarding the mandate program. However, the state continues to audit districts for adherence to the law and take back district money. Districts still have a fiduciary responsibility to train all levels of staff, file claims that fall outside the block grant and to participate in first-time filings of new claims.
This leaves districts vulnerable in two major areas:
- Financial Accountability
- Risk Management
There are two different funding options that districts select annually.
- Mandate Backlog
Discretionary one-time funds for outstanding mandate claims and also includes:
- First-time claim filings
- Annual traditional claims
- Any claims filed outside of the block grant
- Mandate Block Grant
Future funding – not all of the mandates are included in the block grant
It is important that all districts continue to file claims, both new claims and any claims outside of the mandate block grant. The reimbursement of education mandates is constitutionally protected. First-time claims provide the state with the actual costs to districts for implementing a new mandate. Filing claims that are not included in the block grant are part of every school districts fiduciary responsibility.
SI&A’s Good Governance program includes:
- Filing all claims outside of the block grant for block grant participants
- Filing all annual claims for traditional filers
- Filing all first-time claims
- The flexibility to switch filing methods annually
- Participation by SI&A in all California State Controller's Office (SCO) audits on any mandated cost claims it has prepared and filed
Mandates are laws. When accepting the block grant, districts are acknowledging that they are in full adherence with all 44 programs. Essentially, districts are being paid to carry out the programs. Mandates cover very sensitive and litigious topics. Lawsuits on various mandates are happening now, and we believe districts are going to be hard-pressed to come up with a defensible position.
Independent third-party program review
Expertise in the area of mandates is key. When it comes to program adherence, districts need to know where their strengths and weaknesses are. An outside assessment will document processes and shore up deficiencies. To help reduce risk, districts need to maintain vital processes, conduct and document staff training on Ed. Code requirements, and collect backup documentation.
Ed. Code Training
Another essential component to ensuring a defensible position is Ed. Code Training. Districts need to demonstrate that their staff has been trained on the ed. code requirements so they know the laws and can ensure that proper processes are in place.
Our Good Governance program includes:
- An independent third-party review and report on all of the programs; we conduct both district and site interviews and review processes related to all of the programs
- An action plan to correct any deficiencies found in the programs
- On-site Ed. Code Training to ensure your staff is trained on all the mandates; we will identify who should attend, provide documentation on attendees and provide follow-up and alternate sessions for personnel who missed the training
- Help with best practices and processes for carrying out the mandates and the documentation of due diligence
- SiteServ is an additional optional service: we will travel to every site in the district and conduct an assessment of site-based programs and provide individual Ed. Code training to all site administrators
Secure a defensible position with SI&A mandate services
School Innovations & Achievement