California’s Educators Agree More Work Remains on State Budget, Safe Reopening of Schools
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Immediate cuts avoided, but additional revenues needed to prioritize schools and communities
SACRAMENTO – California’s educators agree with Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon who asserted more work remains on the state budget agreement released this week, although immediate cuts were avoided. Among the pending work is securing desperately needed revenue that will prioritize schools and communities.
“We appreciate the governor and legislature’s commitment to public education. We understand the desire to get the economy going again and to ensure all students get back up to speed. However, the safety, health and well-being of students, educators and staff must continue to be our top priority in reopening schools and colleges as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a threat,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “When we bring more than 6 million students back to school for in-person instruction, we need to make sure the state has fulfilled its obligation to provide appropriate protective equipment, masks and supplies for deep and continuous sanitization of school campuses and transportation systems.”
CTA members believe there is significant outstanding work that must be done in order to physically reopen schools safely.
“We appreciate and recognize that this budget agreement averts immediate education cuts and thousands of educator layoffs, but without additional revenues, it also kicks difficult funding problems down the road. Providing flexibility to school districts on average daily attendance and instructional minute requirements will help address equity needs and accommodate distance learning as needed to serve all students,” added Boyd. “Still, a lot of work remains to safely reopen schools and colleges. Whether it is enhancing ventilation systems, accommodating for social distancing, providing face coverings and cleaning supplies, or having the necessary staff for health screenings and emotional support, schools are going to need additional resources.”
The California Department of Public Health must play a role in developing and providing training for school staff on safety protocols so there are consistent standards and expectations throughout the state. CTA believes a uniform symptoms checklist can be used to screen students and staff.
“We agree with the governor and legislators that more work remains. We encourage lawmakers to return after the summer break to address revenue shortfalls directly. Far too many generations of California’s students have shouldered the financial burden imposed by a structure that favors corporations and billionaires,” said Boyd. “We call on you as the leaders of California to join us as we fight for bold measures to create a more just, resilient and healthy California that creates prosperity and opportunity for all. Please join CTA and a broad coalition of community organizations in supporting the Schools & Communities First initiative on the November ballot.”
CTA is seeking clarification on ADA and Distance Learning provisions. Below is what is in the budget trailer bills:
- Attendance Hold Harmless. The budget agreement extends the 2019-20 average daily attendance (ADA) hold harmless to the 2020-21 school year for all LEAs, contingent on in-person instruction or distance learning under certain parameters.
- Distance Learning. The budget agreement maintains instructional day requirements, but provides flexibility for instructional minute requirements to allow for distance learning under certain conditions including: if the LEA or school site closes due to state or local health guidance, if a student is medically fragile or would be put at risk by in-person instruction, or is self-quarantining because of exposure to COVID-19. The budget agreement includes specific requirements for distance learning, including that students have access to technology and devices, student support services and meals. The agreement also requires teachers to provide daily live interactions and document student participation daily.
- Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAP). The final budget agreement eliminates the requirement for LEAs to complete an LCAP for the 2020-21 school year. Instead, the budget requires LEAs to complete a local Learning Continuity and Attendance plan by September 30, 2020.
The 310,000-member California Teachers Association is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.