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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
State provides funding to reopen schools
Changes made to AB 86 will make it easier for schools to open and remain open
March 15, 2021
On March 5, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 86, a $6.6 billion legislative bill aimed at getting more students back into classrooms, nearly one year after the coronavirus pandemic propelled districts into distance learning.
Earlier that week, legislators and the governor announced they had reached a deal that will provide financial support for schools that reopen for in-person instruction by April 1.
ACSA commended its members for their advocacy efforts that resulted in changes to the legislation that will make it easier for schools to reopen and stay open.
“I’m excited for our students and the educators who serve them,” said ACSA Executive Director Wes Smith, during a special edition of the ACSA Legislative Lunch Break broadcast on March 1. “We tell our members all the time: you can either influence policy or be bound by it. And our members decided to speak with one voice, to amplify their voices, to be influencers — and that is going to benefit our students greatly.”
Some highlights of the deal:
  • $2 billion in Proposition 98 funding will be available for school districts offering in-person instruction by April 1, 2021.
  • In-person instruction requirements differ depending on the county tier as defined by the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
  • School districts currently offering in-person instruction do not need to modify their plans to be eligible for the funding.
  • An additional $4.6 billion will be distributed to all school districts, proportionally based on LCFF with an additional $1,000 for each homeless student, intended for learning recovery.
  • The majority of the $4.6 billion will have broad flexibility and can be used for in-person programs and services through August 31, 2022.
As a result of ACSA members’ collective advocacy, significant changes to the legislation include:
  • All collective bargaining requirements have been removed.
  • COVID-19 testing cadence requirements were dramatically curtailed to be limited to schools in the state’s purple tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
  • Schools looking to expand in-person services will have a less stringent pathway to exit the purple tier.
  • Schools currently offering in-person instruction are not required to take additional actions or abide by new conditions.
  • Vaccinations are prioritized for educators but staff vaccination is not a condition for returning to in-person instruction.
ACSA members had a number of issues with the legislature’s original proposal, issues that were outlined in a letter sent to legislative leaders on Feb. 22 that was signed by ACSA and more than 50 districts and county offices of education.
“It’s you folks ­— our members who deserve the credit there. Everybody speaking up last week kind of stalled this,” said ACSA Senior Director of Governmental Relations Edgar Zazueta, during the ACSA Legislative Lunch Break March 1. “It got people back to the drawing board on some of these issues, and I have to say the changes that were made over the last week actually followed the framework of the concerns that we had put out in our letter.”
Newsom and legislative leaders announced the deal during a news conference at Elk Grove Unified School District, where students will be returning to in-person instruction this month. Superintendent Christopher Hoffman credited the strong relationships with labor partners for the ability to move forward.
“We will not be the same Elk Grove Unified when we open in March and moving forward as we were in January,” Hoffman said. “We’re going to be better. We’ve learned a great deal.”
Newsom said Elk Grove USD was a “bookmark” for the pandemic — as one of the first districts to close at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and now one of the largest to announce its reopening.
“It’s demonstrably because of the superintendent’s leadership, the incredible support of the school board, the paraprofessionals, the classified employees, well, all of the bargaining units that worked together across differences — small issues, large issues — committed to a process, committed to one another to build trust, build capacity and ultimately get to where we are today,” Newsom said.

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