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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Newsom proposes record spending on education
January 18, 2021
Gov. Gavin Newsom presented a better-than-expected budget proposal Jan. 8 that prioritizes returning students to classrooms and addressing the loss of learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The $227 billion balanced budget takes advantage of California’s economic rebound following the spring 2020 COVID-19 shutdown and reflects what Newsom said is a state poised for economic recovery.
The windfall in revenue could mean record spending for California’s students should Newsom’s budget be enacted by the Legislature.
“We are proposing to the Legislature a record investment in our public schools unprecedented in California’s history: $85.8 billion dollars — the highest investment per pupil that the state has ever advanced,” Newsom said during a press conference.
The $85.8 billion proposal for the Prop. 98 guarantee would represent a $14.9 billion increase over last year’s enacted budget. For 2021-22, Prop. 98 funding would reach $12,648 per pupil, an all-time high.
The governor proposes $64.5 billion for the Local Control Funding Formula. This reflects a 3.84 percent cost of living adjustment for the LCFF, which combines a 1.5 percent COLA for 2021-22 and a 2.31 percent adjustment for 2020-21 that was not funded in last year’s budget. When adjusting for declining Average Daily Attendance, the 3.84 percent COLA increases ongoing LCFF funding by $2 billion.
This is good news for educators considering dire predictions at the start of the pandemic, said ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith, during a special edition of ACSA’s Legislative Lunch Break following the release of the budget.
“We’re in a much better place today than I think we expected 10 months ago,” he said. “So we’re very encouraged by this and excited to do the work to refine this proposal and make it exactly what our members need to meet the needs of students.”
Read ACSA's full analysis of the proposed budget.
The governor also included in his proposal one-time funds to address learning loss caused by the pandemic. This $4.6 billion proposal to fund extra learning time and summer learning will require early action by the Legislature so that LEAs have time to design targeted interventions that focus on students most adversely affected by the pandemic, including low-income, homeless and foster students.
Newsom also proposes $315.3 million to support various educator professional development programs. The two largest allocations would support the following:
  • $250 million in one-time Prop. 98 funds for the Educator Effectiveness Block Grant; and
  • $50 million in one-time Prop. 98 funds to create statewide resources and provide targeted professional development on social-emotional learning and trauma-informed practices.
“Look, at the end of the day, if you want to address the issue of achievement, we know there’s no greater boost to achievement than teacher preparation. Period. Full stop. We know that. There’s no real debate about that,” Newsom said.
The governor’s budget also proposes allocating $2 billion to create the In-Person Instruction Grant program. The governor initially unveiled this program as part of his Safe Schools for All reopening plan on Dec. 30.
The intended goal of the program is to incentivize school reopening, particularly in order to offer in-person instruction to the state’s youngest children and students from subgroups who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“That’s our default, safely reopening schools for in-person learning,” Newsom said. “If we can’t do it safely, we can’t do it.”
As part of the application, local education agencies would have to submit a COVID-19 School Safety Plan, as well as ratified certificated and classified collective bargaining agreements to their county offices of education and local public health departments. The Safety Plan and ratified bargaining agreements must include details for how LEAs plan to meet new COVID-19 testing requirements. Depending on local COVID case rates, testing could be as frequent as weekly for all students and staff.
Smith praised the governor’s intent to reopen schools, but shared concerns from ACSA members that the plan relies too much on COVID testing, especially now that vaccines are available.
“We need to rethink our safe school reopening plans,” Smith said. “We should double down on vaccinations and we should prioritize the vaccination of all educators, expedite their being vaccinated and have a plan, a comprehensive plan, for how to do it.”
He added there is concern from members that funding for surveillance testing, a public safety expense, should come from the General Fund and not from Prop. 98. The first deadline for schools to submit plans is Feb. 1, raising concerns over how realistic it is for educators to meet that deadline in the midst of a pandemic, said ACSA Senior Director of Governmental Relations Edgar Zazueta.
“We expect that there’s going to be some aggressive action to try and get something through,” Zazueta said, adding that the legislature is pushing its own plan for reopening schools. “As we’ve been telling folks, we would recommend everybody just take a deep breath — these timelines, these deadlines that they’re putting out, there’s a pretty good chance that some of that’s going to evolve as it starts going through the process.”
Smith said now is the time for ACSA members to let their voices be heard, especially as these immediate schools reopening funding measures start to be debated in the Legislature.
“Time is of the essence,” he said. “No one is more influential than our members. The people in the field doing the work — our elected officials need to hear from them. They need to hear from you. Now is the time, if you agree with anything we’ve said today, to reach out to your locals, to message the governor’s office, to tell them your story and why elements of this proposal don’t work for you.”
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