SB 117 – Education Finance Appropriations Bill Regarding COVID-19 ADA And Timeline Waivers And Appropriations For Personal Protective Equipment And Cleaning (Urgency Bill Effective Immediately On March 17, 2020)

CATEGORY: Public Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
DATE: Nov 12, 2020

Provides Hold Harmless Funding for Local Educational Agencies with School Closures Due to COVID-19

Existing law requires local educational agencies to report to the Superintendent of Public Instruction during each fiscal year the average daily attendance of the school for all full school months. Existing law describes the period between July 1 and April 15 as the “second-period” report for the second principal apportionment. SB 117 provides that local educational agencies that comply with the Governor’s Executive Order N-26-20, which provided for the maintenance of funding for schools that closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the second period and annual period reporting of average daily attendance must include only all full school months from July 1, 2019, to February 29, 2020, inclusive. The Legislature referred to this as a “hold harmless” apportionment and stated its intent that the local educational agency continues to compensate its employees and contractors during the period of school closure due to COVID-19.

Deems Local Educational Agencies to Have Met Instructional Days and Minutes during the Time a School Was Closed Due to COVID-19

Currently, the law requires a reduction of a local educational agency’s apportionment of funds if the local educational agency fails to offer a specified number of instructional days and minutes. SB 117 deems local educational agencies to have met instructional days and minutes requirements of existing law during the period of time a school was closed due to COVID-19. This will prevent the loss of funding related to an instructional time penalty. The superintendent of a school district, county superintendent of schools, or charter school administrator must certify in writing to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction that the local educational agency closed the school due to COVID-19.

Waives Requirement for Charter School to Materially Revise its Charter Petition to Offer Independent Study or Distance Learning Programs

Under existing law, charter schools must submit a request for material revision to its charter if they seek to operate independent study or distance learning programs. SB 117 waives that requirement for charter schools that offer independent study or distance learning programs during the period of time that the charter school is closed due to the COVID-19 and complying with Executive Order N-26-20.

Deems COVID-19 a Qualifying Event for After School Education and Safety Program to Obtain Pupil Attendance Credit when Temporarily Prevented from Operating

Existing law establishes the After School Education and Safety Program and describes the purpose of the program as creating incentives to establish locally driven before and after school enrichment programs that partner public schools and communities to provide academic and literacy support and safe, constructive alternatives for youth. If a program grantee is temporarily prevented from operating its entire program due to natural disaster, civil unrest, or imminent danger to pupils or staff, the State Department of Education may approve a grantee’s request for pupil attendance credit equal to the average annual attendance that the grantee would have received had it been able to operate its entire program during that time period.

SB 117 specifies that a school closure due to COVID–19 is a qualifying event for the purposes described above, if the local educational agencies that comply with Executive Order N-26-20. The bill would waive a grantee’s obligation to submit a request for pupil attendance credits, and would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to credit a grantee with the average annual attendance it would have received had it been able to operate its entire program during the time the school was closed due to COVID–19.

Extends English Learner Assessment Deadline by 45 Days

Existing law requires a school district that has one or more pupils who are English learners, and, to the extent required by federal law, a county office of education and a charter school, to assess the English language development of each pupil in order to determine the pupil’s level of English proficiency. Existing law requires a school to conduct this assessment upon a pupil’s initial enrollment and at least annually during a 4-month period after January 1. SB 117 extends the deadline to conduct the English learner assessment by 45 days unless otherwise determined by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Extends CAASPP Testing Window for the English Learner Assessment

California law establishes the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) as the statewide system of pupil assessments, under which the Education Code requires or authorizes local educational agencies to administer various assessments in public schools. Existing law also requires the governing board of a school district maintaining any of grades 5, 7, and 9 to administer to each pupil in those grades a physical performance test, as specified.

SB 117 extends the testing window for the annual English learner assessment described in the CAASPP, and the physical performance test by the length of time a school is closed due to COVID–19, or until the end of the testing window, whichever comes first.

Extends Deadline to Provide Assessment Plan for Pupil with Exceptional Needs

School districts, county offices of education, and charter schools normally must provide to parents a  proposed assessment plan to determine if a pupil is an individual with exceptional needs to be developed within 15 calendar days of referral for assessment, excluding calendar days between the pupil’s regular school sessions or terms and calendar days of school vacation in excess of 5 schooldays.

SB 117 requires the State Department of Education to consider the days a school is closed due to COVID–19 as days between a pupil’s regular school sessions for purposes of the timelines affecting special education programs. The bill waives certain special education timelines if a local educational agency has closed due to COVID–19 up until the school reopens and the regular school session reconvenes. However, SB 117 does not waive any special education requirements under federal law.

Budget Appropriation for Local Educational Agencies for Personal Protective Equipment and Cleaning Costs

SB 117 appropriates $100,000,000 from the General Fund to the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the Superintendent to apportion to certain local educational agencies for purposes of purchasing personal protective equipment or paying for supplies and labor related to cleaning school sites, or both.

Because SB 117 was an appropriation bill, it took effect immediately upon approval by the governor on March 17, 2020.

(SB 117 is an appropriations bill and, therefore, does not add or amend any Section to or of the Education Code.)