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Legislative update: School start time issue re-emerges; CSBA supports ethic studies bill; major amendments to LCFF funding measure 

School start time bill re-emerges on Assembly Floor

On Aug. 16, after lying dormant on the Assembly Floor since failing passage in Sept. 2017, Senate Bill 328 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge), the CSBA-opposed bill prohibiting middle and high schools in non-rural school districts from beginning regular classes before 8:30 a.m., was amended and moved out  of the Assembly inactive file. SB 328 can now be heard on the Assembly Floor as early as Thursday, Aug. 23, which is the next scheduled Assembly Floor session as of this writing.

Calls to Assemblymembers’ Capitol offices from governing board members statewide are critical to ensure that the bill does not advance out of the Assembly.

CSBA does not oppose later start times. However, CSBA opposes SB 328 because of the mandate on school start times for all middle and high schools in non-rural school districts. For school districts of all types, start times are a local decision which should be made by locally elected boards, based on input from parents, students, staff and members of individual communities.

Amendments made to the bill on Aug. 16 delay its implementation from July 1, 2020 to July 1, 2021 and state that the bill shall not apply to rural school districts — however, the bill stops short of defining “rural.”

Following an extensive effort from CSBA members asking their Assemblymembers to vote “No,” SB 328 failed passage on the Assembly Floor in 2017 with 26 “Aye” votes, 30 “No” votes and 23 Assemblymembers not voting.

Fact sheet on SB 328 | SB 328 bill text (Amended 8/16/18)| 9/14/17 SB 328 Assembly votes

Ethnic studies; CSBA adopts support position

CSBA has adopted a support position on AB 2772 (Medina, D-Riverside), after amendments were made in the Senate Appropriations Committee which removed the unfunded mandate from the bill. With the mandate gone, the amended version of AB 2772 provides an incentive for school districts to offer ethnic studies as a graduation requirement. The bill now authorizes the governing board of a school district to apply to the California Department of Education for a grant to fund a semester-long or year-long course in ethnic studies that the governing board of the school district would require each pupil to complete while in any of grades nine to 12 in order to receive a high school diploma.

Wildfire liability proposal stalls

On Aug. 16, CSBA sent a coalition letter (co-signed with the Association of California School Administrators, California Association of School Business Officials, the Coalition for Adequate School Housing and various local educational agencies) to the Legislature’s Conference Committee on Wildfire Preparedness and Response, which had been weighing Gov. Brown’s proposal on wildfire liability. The coalition letter addressed the impact of California’s wildfires on public schools and urged the Legislature to broach the issue with a more in-depth and thorough policy discussion that takes those impacts into account, further arguing that there was insufficient time for such a discussion to occur before the end of the current legislative on Aug. 31.

It was reported over the weekend that the Conference Committee is unlikely to continue to weigh the proposal this year.

Whereas current law governing “inverse condemnation” states that utilities can be held liable for damages caused by wildfires linked to their equipment even if proper safety procedures were followed, the Governor’s proposal would have amended that law by directing courts to “balance the public benefit of the electrical infrastructure with the harm caused to private property and determine whether the utility acted reasonably.” As detailed in the coalition letter, without the assurances provided by current inverse condemnation law, schools affected by wildfire could be left to pay for wildfire damages on their own.

CSBA co-sponsored bills; AB 2808 amended

The four key CSBA co-sponsored bills below have all advanced to the Senate Floor after passing the Senate Appropriations Committee on Aug. 16, with significant amendments coming to AB 2808 (Muratsuchi).

View full results of Aug. 16 suspense hearings

AB 276 (Medina, D-Riverside), Charter school transparency
States that charter schools and entities managing charter schools are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Act (or the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act), the California Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act of 1974 and Government Code 1090.

AB 1951 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach), Pathways to College Act
Would allow LEAs the flexibility to administer an alternate assessment (such as the SAT or ACT) for 11th-grade students in place of the Smarter Balanced Summative Test, if the alternate test has been approved by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

AB 3192 (O’Donnell, D-Long Beach), Medi-Cal Billing Option; audit guide
Would require the California Department of Health Care Services to prepare and distribute a fiscal and compliance audit guide for the LEA Medi-Cal Billing Option; amendments made in Appropriations delay the required publication date from June 30, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020.

AB 2808 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance), Funding level of K-12 public schools
As originally written, AB 2808 would have increased the size of the LCFF base grant targets by directing anticipated growth in Proposition 98 toward LCFF. However, amendments made to the bill in Appropriations last week gutted the bill and added language that expresses the intent of the Legislature to raise K-12 funding. The amended version of the bill does not add to or amend the Education Code, and does not raise the LCFF base grant targets.

The new AB 2808 language states that, “it is the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation providing that, beginning in the 2019–20 fiscal year, the state shall begin to provide increases to the LCFF to address the existing inequities in per-pupil funding and fund California K–12 public schools at a level that is equal to, or above, the average of the top 10 states nationally by 2025.”

New “Unpacking California’s State Plan under ESSA” report available.

Click here to download updated ESSA report; see page 2 of the PDF for the summary table of updates.

California’s state ESSA plan was approved by the U.S. Secretary of Education on July 12, 2018.  The updated “Unpacking ESSA” report includes information on several updates made to the state plan since it was submitted in April.