Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses his revised 2020-2021 state budget during a news conference in Sacramento on May 14, 2020. Reflecting the financial hit California is seeing from the coronavirus.
The article was updated on June 23 to include information about the calendar year and new requirements for distance learning.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders announced Monday that they have reached an agreement on the 2020-21 budget that will preserve spending for K-12 schools and community colleges at current levels but potentially could result in funding cuts of nearly $1 billion combined for the University of California and California State University.

The budget will also provide language that will prevent the layoffs of teachers and many other school employees over the next year — actions that unions representing teachers and other employees, known as classified workers, had strongly lobbied for. These protected employees will include bus drivers, custodians and nutrition workers but not classroom aides.

While not the increase that Newsom had sought in his pre-COVID-19 budget in January, there should be enough funding to assure the reopening of school this fall, Newsom said at a press conference Monday. “I think the funding will substantially exist,” he said. “We think a lot of that anxiety is mitigated.”

To help with reopening costs, Newsom agreed to add $1 billion in one-time federal dollars under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and to distribute the money to more districts to address learning lost during school closures. The total CARES Act funding for K-12 will rise from $6 billion to $7 billion.

Newsom and the Legislature face a July 1 deadline and have been negotiating a particularly difficult budget for several weeks. The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the state into a recession and sent state revenues plunging. That created a projected $54 billion revenue shortfall for next year; Proposition 98, the formula that determines spending for community colleges and K-12 schools, is projected to fall by $14 billion from what Newsom proposed in January, to $70 billion.

Newsom and the Legislature assumed, in separate versions of the budget, that the federal government would provide additional stimulus aid to make up for the shortfall. The U.S. House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act that would include more than $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments, but the Senate has not taken it up, and Republican leaders have questioned the need for more aid.

Without that extra funding, Newsom had proposed cutting K-12 spending by 8% — $6.4 billion — and making $5.7 billion in late payments to school districts, called deferrals. But yielding to the Legislature in negotiations, Newsom agreed to rescind the cuts and instead issue a record $12 billion in deferrals.

Under deferrals, which former Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature used to get schools through the Great Recession, school districts can spend more than they’ll be funded for, with the understanding they will receive full payment in the following fiscal year, 2021-22. That strategy can create cash flow problems for districts; if federal funding does come, the state won’t have to impose $6 billion of the deferrals.

Passage of the HEROES Act will also determine whether UC’s and CSU’s budgets will be cut significantly. Newsom had proposed cutting $1.17 billion in combined cuts and to rescind $770 of that amount through federal funding. The final deal calls for cutting $970 million — $470 million for UC and $500 for CSU — which would be restored with federal coronavirus assistance.

In a joint statement, Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon expressed continued optimism that Congress would help California and the other states. “Californians are doing their part — now it’s imperative for our federal partners to pass a responsible and comprehensive relief plan so states and local communities can continue to keep Americans safe while leading our national economic recovery,” the statement said.

The Legislature also had proposed a 2.3% cost of living adjustment, but the final agreement drops that, while keeping the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee at $70.5 billion.

Compromise on layoffs

Disagreements over staff layoffs had been one of the sticking points in negotiations. The California Teachers Association had argued that a return to school would require more, not fewer employees: bus drivers, health aides, counselors and teachers potentially splitting duties between distance learning and classroom instructions. Organizations representing school boards and administrators agreed in principle, but said that they should have flexibility to make employment decisions based on their own staffing needs.

Legislative leaders proposed waiving two state laws to prohibit any layoffs to teachers and classified workers. Newsom opposed a blanket waiver; the compromise, according to a staff member familiar with the negotiations, will exempt three areas of work by classified employees: custodial work, nutrition and transportation. Not receiving protection from layoffs will be classroom and special education aides, after-school workers and administrators. Under current law, classified workers can be laid off with 60 days’ notice.

Money for learning loss

Newsom and legislators also disagreed over how to distribute nearly $2.8 billion in federal CARES Act funding for districts to address learning loss. That money must be spent by Dec. 31. Newsom wanted the funding to go only to districts with high concentrations of high-needs children: low-income students, English learners, foster students and homeless students. The Legislature’s formula would distribute the money among more districts.

The compromise is what the Equity Coalition, a group of student advocacy and civil rights groups had proposed. It will also include money for districts with high-needs students that don’t reach the concentration level Newsom had proposed. In addition, the extra $1 billion will be distributed more broadly to all districts. Districts will have flexibility to spend the money on all students.

“This agreement reflects our shared commitment to supporting schools, and is built on a foundation of equity — allocating billions of dollars for students most affected by learning loss and continuing our state’s leadership toward reforming the criminal justice system,” said the joint statement.

Other provisions

Instructional time: Because of the coronavirus’ unpredictable impact on the year ahead, with districts expecting to go in and out of distance learning and hybrid models of learning, districts sought flexibility in the school year and daily instructional minutes. They will get the latter but not the former. The minimum year will remain 180 days for traditional school districts and 175 days for charter schools. But they will have flexibility in calculating daily instructional time, with a minimum 4 hours per day for most grades for in-person instruction or a combination of in-person instruction and distance learning (see section 43501 of trailer bill AB 77)

Distance learning: As a result of great inconsistency among districts and schools in providing remote instruction since March, Newsom and legislators are setting requirements for distance learning (see sections starting 43502 of trailer bill AB 77).They include:

  • Confirming that students have computer and internet access
  • Documenting daily student participation in a weekly log and creating a system to track non-participating students
  • Setting procedures for reengaging students who are absent for more than 60% of instruction per week
  • Communicating with parents about learning progress
  • Ensuring teachers interact live daily to instruct, monitor progress and maintain connections
  • Providing academic supports for English learners and students behind academically

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  1. Steven Moran 5 months ago5 months ago

    So, if I understand this correctly - given the difficulties of measuring attendance for the upcoming school year, school funds for the '20-'21 school year are going to be based on the '19-'20 school year attendance? I presume that Independent Charters would be apportioned funds separately from their districts? Is this the case with dependent charters as well? Are '19-'20 enrollments being calculated for districts as a whole (presumably including dependent charters in that district) - meaning … Read More

    So, if I understand this correctly – given the difficulties of measuring attendance for the upcoming school year, school funds for the ’20-’21 school year are going to be based on the ’19-’20 school year attendance?

    I presume that Independent Charters would be apportioned funds separately from their districts? Is this the case with dependent charters as well?

    Are ’19-’20 enrollments being calculated for districts as a whole (presumably including dependent charters in that district) – meaning that funds will be apportioned to each district, who will then allocate to their schools as they see fit – or will each school be apportioned funds individually?

    An earlier question clarified that if a child changes school, the new school won’t receive funding for that child. Doesn’t this effectively trap all children at their current school, and eliminate the ability of parents to choose a school that they deem best for their child?

    What if parents are unhappy with the quality of education that their child’s current school provided during last spring’s distance learning experiment, and don’t want more of the same in the upcoming school year? What if a child has to move to a new school or district? As a parent, why would I want my child to go to a school that won’t be given the funds necessary to educate my child?

    Why would any public school voluntarily accept additional students if that school knows that they won’t receive funding necessary to support that child’s education?

    I’m assuming that this does not apply to fully private schools, who can take money from anyone who can afford it?

    If any of my conclusions are in error, please let me know.

  2. Frank R. 5 months ago5 months ago

    Schools are now headed into a position where cash flow will be critical. Back in the day, when the State routinely passed what was then called a “deficited revenue limit,” the issue of does a district have enough cash in the bank to pay salaries, benefits, and, fixed costs (e.g. utilities). Statewide there is declining enrollment which usually translates into less revenue coupled with the deficited revenue limit coupled with the funding methodology of districts … Read More

    Schools are now headed into a position where cash flow will be critical. Back in the day, when the State routinely passed what was then called a “deficited revenue limit,” the issue of does a district have enough cash in the bank to pay salaries, benefits, and, fixed costs (e.g. utilities).

    Statewide there is declining enrollment which usually translates into less revenue coupled with the deficited revenue limit coupled with the funding methodology of districts on a month to month basis, coupled with “the no-lay-off” provision will create an enormous cash flow problem by December’s payroll. Further complications include a rather 2% increase in fixed costs as well as step and column salary schedule movement for certificated and classified staff plus any cost of living increases due to contract issues and expirations all lead to massive cash flow problems and resulting hugely negative first interim reports which will lead to potential state takeovers of many districts.

    The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is really an oncoming freight train. and schools have no way to get off he tracks.

  3. Tiffany 5 months ago5 months ago

    I am hoping someone can clarify this for me. Are the schools, under this model of proposed budget, going to receive a double funding payment next year? If this years funding payment is held off until next year, than doesn’t that mean that the schools next year will receive two payments? Would that include all schools, brick and mortar and non classroom based alike?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      Given the expectation that the economy will be long in recovering, probably not. The deferrals will continue until year to year revenues increase. If anything deferrals may be larger next year — unless there is federal aid to supplement state revenue. The alternative is budget cuts that were avoided this year. That’s what is dangerous about deferrals. The savings for the state are only for the year in which they’re given.

      • Tiffany 5 months ago5 months ago

        Thank you for clarifying. I have a child in a homeschooling charter and one more entering kinder in the fall so the funding being affected is something we are trying to figure out. Thanks again.

  4. Tara Murray-Bailey 5 months ago5 months ago

    Governor Newsom needs to require all districts return to a regular special education model. Some districts have caring models that combines SDC and RSP model into one. With distance learning, these models make it extremely difficult to address all the needs of the students on IEPs. Why? Because too many students on one's case load and too many grade levels to cover. Classroom size (24-28) is very close to general … Read More

    Governor Newsom needs to require all districts return to a regular special education model. Some districts have caring models that combines SDC and RSP model into one. With distance learning, these models make it extremely difficult to address all the needs of the students on IEPs.
    Why? Because too many students on one’s case load and too many grade levels to cover. Classroom size (24-28) is very close to general education classroom with a plethora of qualifying disabilities

  5. Deanns 5 months ago5 months ago

    Am I reading the bill correctly that districts are not allowed to insist on 100% distance learning in the fall unless there’s a state or local order?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      That’s how I read it, Deanns. Which is not to say that districts can’t offer a hybrid program or provide distance learning to students of parents who choose to keep them home. They should be able to.

  6. Ruth Relf 5 months ago5 months ago

    Do you know where Library staff staff fall in the classified exempt or non-exempt categories in terms of lay-off protection? Are they included under Administrative?

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      Ruth, my assumption is that library staff would not be protected from layoff, because they don’t fall in one of the three protected classes: custodians, kitchen staff and bus drivers. But perhaps others have the definitive answer.

  7. Wolf 5 months ago5 months ago

    How about utilizing classroom aides to help with the additional supervision needed with the 50/50 model, additional temperature testing, and cleaning that will now be required rather than laying them off through a re-train and re-purpose program?

  8. Tristan Alexander 5 months ago5 months ago

    Thank you, Governor. I am a 37 year old male that got himself off of SSI Disability and have worked hard to get a fulltime position with my school district. Getting a layoff note destroyed my moral and confidence. Then yesterday I received an email from HR and immediately everything was ok again.

  9. Ray 5 months ago5 months ago

    If you read the whole budget, those parents who want to enroll their children in “hybrid” charter schools may not be able to. In the budget, charter school with that model will receive funding based on 19/20 attendance, not 20/21 like other public schools. This means the those schools cannot increase enrollment from the previous year because they will not get funding for new students.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      You are mostly right, unless the trailer bill is amended. But district schools also will receive funding at 2019-20 attendance levels, and that would include districts that will increase attendance this year. Some still are growing.

      • Natalie 5 months ago5 months ago

        So to clarify, both charters and school districts will receive funding based on ’19-20 attendance? So that would mean schools could enroll new students but not get paid for them, but that doesn’t seem to be unique to charters. A student could leave a charter for a public or a public for a charter and the funding would not go with them. Is that correct?

        Thank you for taking the time to help me understand this. I appericiate you!

        • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

          Natalie, yes to all of your questions. The issue may not be over, however. I hear that discussions will continue when the Legislature returns. The challenge is how to avoid double-paying districts and charters. There's a valid reason, amid so much turbulence, to hold districts and charters harmless for attendance this year. To also pay districts and charters for transfers would result in double payments. But both charters and some districts had anticipated growth and … Read More

          Natalie, yes to all of your questions. The issue may not be over, however. I hear that discussions will continue when the Legislature returns. The challenge is how to avoid double-paying districts and charters. There’s a valid reason, amid so much turbulence, to hold districts and charters harmless for attendance this year. To also pay districts and charters for transfers would result in double payments. But both charters and some districts had anticipated growth and added staff to accommodate it — and should not be penalized. Plus, parents who were dissatisfied with how distance learning was handled in their districts in the spring have sought charters. But some charters have probably lost enrollment, too.

          I don’t know where how it will end up.

  10. Cassandr Tillman 5 months ago5 months ago

    We need clarity regarding layoffs. According to this notice, after-school staff are not protected in the layoff plan. Does this include union after-school teachers? I work for the district as a before/after school teacher with union membership. If the other certificated teachers are protected, this legislation doesn’t seem to identify the difference. Can you please clarify?

  11. Jim Bakker 5 months ago5 months ago

    Very informative article. Thank you.

  12. MARY jOHNSON, Parent-U-Turn 5 months ago5 months ago

    Again Governor Newsom and Anthony Rendon are brought men for labor unions. Everything in the article is strictly what is good for adults and very little about what is best for the students. The agreement of flexible hours spells out what is good for teachers' schedule but not for the students and their families. Our elected officials are lobbied by unions and in return the unions donate big sums of money to elected officials' campaigns. … Read More

    Again Governor Newsom and Anthony Rendon are brought men for labor unions. Everything in the article is strictly what is good for adults and very little about what is best for the students. The agreement of flexible hours spells out what is good for teachers’ schedule but not for the students and their families.

    Our elected officials are lobbied by unions and in return the unions donate big sums of money to elected officials’ campaigns. Parents and students don’t have that social connection and money to have lobbyists for our viewpoints. This is why status quo will continue until we the people have a place at the table.

    Replies

    • Catherine Foley 5 months ago5 months ago

      Dear Mary, What you fail to realize is that what is good for educators is good for students. As both a teacher and a union delegate, I know from first-hand experience that the majority of our conversations and planning time centers around if and how our decisions will benefit students. We have student advocates present at our council meetings who help us stay in touch with their concerns and issues. Students … Read More

      Dear Mary, What you fail to realize is that what is good for educators is good for students. As both a teacher and a union delegate, I know from first-hand experience that the majority of our conversations and planning time centers around if and how our decisions will benefit students. We have student advocates present at our council meetings who help us stay in touch with their concerns and issues.

      Students do not like revolving doors of school personnel, but many teachers leave the field because of low pay, excessive workloads, and unsupportive parents. Nobody enters and stays in this field unless they care deeply about the success and emotional well-being of our students. If we only cared about ourselves, we would work in the private sector. Hoping for some job security, a fair wage (which will never match the time, effort, and expertise we expend), and appreciation is not too much to ask.

  13. Manuel Lopez 5 months ago5 months ago

    While teachers cannot be laid off, I assume districts can still offer early retirement incentives which is what they should do to protect high risk teachers.

  14. Deb 5 months ago5 months ago

    Wow. Classroom aides were essential just a month ago, and now are not. Schools need them more than ever with social distancing and distance learning. Our students will suffer.

  15. Kristen Brown 5 months ago5 months ago

    What about IDEA and the 40:40:20 funding for Special Education it spells out for Federal, State and District? Because at my last SELPA meeting, approving the budget, I saw that Federal was 7%, State was 28% and 65% was from the district general fund. If we are not fixing this systemic right for our institutions, we will never fix the systemic issues of funding.

    Replies

    • Jennifer Bestor 5 months ago5 months ago

      Demanding that the Feds pay their fair share (especially as they've made all the relevant rules) has gone nowhere over the years. At the risk of making you nuts, however, I'd like to see *more* local money in SELPAs ... specifically, the $100 million of County Office of Education "excess" that is now being redirected to pay the state's trial court costs each year. This would actually open up at least $40 million's worth … Read More

      Demanding that the Feds pay their fair share (especially as they’ve made all the relevant rules) has gone nowhere over the years. At the risk of making you nuts, however, I’d like to see *more* local money in SELPAs … specifically, the $100 million of County Office of Education “excess” that is now being redirected to pay the state’s trial court costs each year. This would actually open up at least $40 million’s worth of room in the Prop 98 Guarantee.

      The reason the state can call it ‘excess’ is that it exceeds COEs’ LCFF entitlement and the state won’t rationalize the property tax split between counties and their SELPAs. This split ranges from 0% to 80% and it is based on (wait for it!) whether or not a county had any special levies, in any of its districts, for disabled children — in 1977!

      Counties like San Francisco, with a single district, didn’t. Others did, with absolutely no pattern. So, while I don’t see getting anything more out of the Feds in the short term, it does seem appalling not to even be able to use COE property tax for this purpose, rather than handing it off for something totally unrelated. I’ve linked the LAO article on the amounts and the background – you’ll need to go to an Op Ed in the SF Chronicle by Josh Becker and Joe Ross to see the COE side.

  16. Barbara J. Peterson 5 months ago5 months ago

    We are wanting to work with a home school program this year because of the virus, which would be administered from another district. Will the home school costs be covered if the program is in another district?

  17. Maria Olivares 5 months ago5 months ago

    Please do not sign 2020-2021 San Francisco Unified budget, without UESF advisors’ help and input in understanding the consequences of the new budget.
    Thank you,

  18. Stan Sexton 5 months ago5 months ago

    It’s probably politically impossible since state employees are so powerful, but you could keep more teachers if you reduced some of the extravagant CALSTRS pensions. Why don’t you give us the Top 10 pension amounts because most people don’t know about Transparent California. The average Californian would be shocked if they knew the top salaries and pensions. And they take no economic risk.

    Replies

    • John Fensterwald 5 months ago5 months ago

      Here is the link to Transparent California, a site that provides pension and salary information for every public employee in the state:

      https://transparentcalifornia.com/

  19. Giselle S Galper 5 months ago5 months ago

    I wish Community Colleges were rewarded for their hard work this spring. They did an amazing job. I’m thrilled to see the language defining distance learning, but more than shocked that instructional minutes were cut by one third for high schools. I certainly hope high schools will deliver more.

  20. Jennifer Bestor 5 months ago5 months ago

    Twenty years from now, we'll realize that the true stinger in the tail of this budget was allowing school districts to sell property and use the proceeds for current operating expenses. This will be used to bludgeon districts into maintaining spending levels they can't afford. Our district sold off school sites in the 1980s as enrollment shrunk after the Baby Boom and Proposition 13 bit. Then we spent the last 15 years shoehorning kids and … Read More

    Twenty years from now, we’ll realize that the true stinger in the tail of this budget was allowing school districts to sell property and use the proceeds for current operating expenses. This will be used to bludgeon districts into maintaining spending levels they can’t afford. Our district sold off school sites in the 1980s as enrollment shrunk after the Baby Boom and Proposition 13 bit. Then we spent the last 15 years shoehorning kids and classrooms into the remaining sites – tearing down buildings so we could add a story, cutting back playing fields and playgrounds. A budget that packs $11B of deferrals into a single year, with no obvious means of paying them back in the future, and invites developers to pressure districts into selling property … bookmark this post for 2040.

  21. Elizabeth Alvarez 5 months ago5 months ago

    Great article

  22. Jennifer Bestor 5 months ago5 months ago

    Ouch. The structure of these deferrals is as frightening as their size. February not paid until November? March in October? This are not 2008 Recession deferrals. The inversion in repayment dates, and no deferral for June 2021, sets up a major hedge against April 2021 tax receipts. Altogether, a cumulative 23 allocation-months is going into statute (compared with 17 for 2011-12 funding at the worst of the 2008 recession). County treasuries have tried to help … Read More

    Ouch. The structure of these deferrals is as frightening as their size. February not paid until November? March in October? This are not 2008 Recession deferrals. The inversion in repayment dates, and no deferral for June 2021, sets up a major hedge against April 2021 tax receipts. Altogether, a cumulative 23 allocation-months is going into statute (compared with 17 for 2011-12 funding at the worst of the 2008 recession). County treasuries have tried to help districts with overdrafts up to the amount of their deferred warrants when possible. But prior deferrals have been six months at most. A non-interest bearing nine-month loan? Better hope that interest rates remain around 0% — more districts will be going out for TRANs.

    Replies

    • Chris Moggia 5 months ago5 months ago

      Ms. Bestor your comments and insight always hit the mark. Plus, you are the only person I know that has ever used “sclerotic” in a PowerPoint presentation! 🙂

      Please keep up the good work you are doing through “Educate Our State” about the financing challenges for K-12 in California. It is much appreciated.

    • Jennifer Bestor 5 months ago5 months ago

      My bad. The full June deferral to July is simply in a different section of the Ed Code (14041.5).